At the CRA meeting, Dr. James Maas gave a riveting talk on the importance of sleep. Dr. Maas has worked with countless athletes including multiple NHL hockey players, NBA basketball players, the Canadian Olympic men's hockey team, Olympic figure skating champion Sara Hughes, and countless more. Here are our top 10 takeaways from his talk:
1. Bedtime: Go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time each morning.
2. Continuous Sleep: It is normal to awaken several times a night but being awake for more than 20 minutes is not normal.
3. Stress: Stress is the most important predictor of waking. Write down your worries on a piece of paper next to your bed. You can't do anything about them when you're sleeping.
4. Caffeine: Do not drink caffeine after 2 pm.
5. Alcohol: Alcohol ruins REM sleep if ingested within 3 hrs of bedtime.
6. Duration of Sleep: The best REM sleep occurs after 6 hours of sleep. It is important for adolsecents to get 9.25 hours and adults require 7.5-9 hours a night.
7. Naps are Good: We all have a biphasic sleep pattern. A restorative nap or "power nap" can be helpful. 10-15 minutes or 90 minutes is the sweet spot - never 60 minutes. Naps reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke.
8. The Bedroom: Should be quiet, dark, and cool. Bedrooms are for sleep - get rid of cellphones and cover alarm clocks. Takea hot bath or soak in the hot tub before bed. Easy stretching and no heavy workouts or evening vigorous exercise! Read non-work related material before bed.
9. The Pillow: A good pillow keeps the head, neck, and spinal cord in alignment. Fold your pillow in half and if it doesn't spring back instantly, you have a dead pillow.
10. Electronics: Don't use electronics within one hour of bedtime. They emit a blue light that blocks melatonin.