Craig and I constantly read and study what gives athletes the competitive edge both mental and physically. When something stands out we want to share it with you…
Recently, I read a fascinating article from sleep experts that turns upside down our beliefs about the need for 8 hours of straight deep sleep every night. You can click here to read the entire article, but here are some of the highlights:
The constant allure of new technology has lead roughly 41 million people, just in the United States, to get fewer than 6 hours of sleep at night according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Typically this would call for the usual earlier bedtimes and longer nights sleep, but recent studies show that this might be part of the problem!
2. Virginia Tech professor, A. Roger Ekirch researched history and found many references to “first sleep” and “second sleep.” The time in between was considered the best time for study and reflection.
3. Dr. Thomas Wehr, a psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health found by depriving subjects of artificial lights like light bulbs, TV and computers, the body naturally settled into a split sleep schedule. They used the middle of the night as a chance for deep thinking and getting a jump on the next day.
4. Media and doctors who push sleep aid products reinforce the idea that there is something wrong with interrupted sleep cycles. Sleep anxiety is the result, because we think something is wrong if we awaken in the middle of the night. This can lead to insomniacs and the reliance on sleep aids which reinforces a cycle that Harvard psychologist, Daniel Wegner, called “The ironic processes of mental control.”
What that means is that as we lie in bed thinking about the sleep we’re not getting, we diminish our chances of a restful sleep!
5. Recent studies show that any deep sleep, whether it is 8 hours or a nap, primes our brains to function at a higher level. This can lead to coming up with better ideas, finding solutions faster and recalling information more accurately.
Fernando Montes, the former strength and conditioning coach for the Texas Rangers, advised his players to fall asleep with the curtains in their hotel rooms open so they naturally wake up at sunrise no matter the time zone – even if it meant cutting into their 8 hours of sleep.
At the ballpark he set up a quiet area where players could sleep before the game. Players said they felt great both physically and mentally.
Would do you think…are you ready to be more flexible with your kids schedule to incorporate strategic napping like the Rangers? Is 8 solid hours at night too much sleep? Let us know your thoughts below.
Director Mental Toughness Academy