Muscle Memory Can Be Enhanced With Sleep 0

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

FORT WORTH, Tex. — Proper sleep is one of the most valuable components to athletic success.

When a pattern of sleep deprivation takes place, serious consequences happen as performances on the field suffer as well as academics and dramatic mood changes.

Those in the game of baseball have broken down almost everything in the quest to see athletes perform at the highest level possible.

And that can take the form of better nutrition, weight training and teaching concepts specific to the different skills required.

 But focusing on sleep has not been a high priority for coaches.

Dr. James Maas is a leading authority and international consultant on sleep and performance who has studied the subject more than four decades as a professor at Cornell University.

He wrote a book with Haley Davis called Sleep To Win! Secrets To Unlocking Your Athletic Excellence In Every Sport.

The staff of Sleep To Win have presented highly successful programs on sleep to scores of corporations, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Figure Skating Association, as well as NFL, NBA and National Hockey League teams.

Research from Harvard University clearly shows that if you practice a motor skill and get proper sleep the evening before, sleep spindles will bind together a motor muscle chain of memory and make a physical record in your brain in the motor cortex.

In short, muscle memory can be achieved more efficiently with 9.25 hours of sleep for those from puberty to age 26, according to Dr. Maas.

He presented a graphic example of the link between muscle memory and ideal sleep with figure skater Sarah Hughes who nearly quit at the age of 15. She simply could not perform high level jumps at this time even practicing two sessions a day in the morning and evening with the best coach in the world and the best sports psychologist.

Dr. Maas discovered she was essentially a walking zombie and asked her to consider cutting out her morning practices to get the 9.25 hours of sleep she needed. Within five weeks, she was suddenly doing jumps and moves she could never do before. The only explanation was the extra rest she had.

Hughes went on to earn a gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City, Utah Winter Olympics.

Choosing Mattress, Pillow
Dr. Maas said that it was vital to choose the correct mattress and pillow for sleeping soundly.

His book said that as you sleep, you must have your head, neck and spinal cord aligned just as if you were standing.

If you have a waterbed, he said that you should have a thick vinyl cover which is at least 20 mil. And if you are in a hotel and have a terrible mattress, either ask to change rooms or have the mattress replaced.

“The pillow is as important as the mattress. If you are really sleep deprived as most high school and college kids are, you can sleep on concrete. The best mattress is one that will give you body and lumbar support that ultimately will make you feel comfortable.

“And there are different strokes for different folks. Some people like hard mattresses and others like soft mattresses. Whatever doesn’t make you sore and doesn’t make you toss and turn excessively is fine. So many people go to a mattress store and only put their fingers on the mattress and press down. You’re not buying a piano. You’re buying a mattress. Lie down on it and take a power nap for 10 or 15 minutes to see if you relax or the mattress makes you stiff.

“For the most part, you want an individual pocketed coil innerspring mattress that conforms to your body and has low motion transfer. This type of mattress will not cause your partner to be awakened by tossing and turning or your animals if they sleep with you. Stay away from foam mattresses. They are usually too hot and ruin your sleep or they mold to your body in such a way that there will be hills and valleys in that mattress after a fairly short period of time.

“It also is important to ask for the proper coil count for a bed (above 400 for a queen and 480 for a king). If the salesman doesn’t know what the coil count is, walk away. Cheap mattresses have very low coil counts, and the coils are all yoked together by wires so that if one part of your body moves, then the motion transfers to the rest of your body. And it is not a good, stable surface.

“As important is the pillow. You can be on a $10,000 mattress. But if you have a bad pillow, you will have a bad night’s sleep. I feel a good down (such as goose down) or down alternative pillow is the best. Memory pillows build heat, and they are terrible. Some people want water pillows or foam pillows.

“A good pillow can save you as much as 20 percent better delta or deep sleep time which is so important for muscle, body, brain development and growth. There is no doubt about it.

“When traveling, a lot of people are smart enough to bring their own pillows which allows for better sleep at hotels. On airline flights, you can purchase a travel pillow from Bed, Bath and Beyond which is a little bit bigger than a paperback book. Most airlines don’t have pillows any more. And if they do, God knows what’s in them. Using this neck pillow for sleeping on a plane helps. Then when you get to the hotel, this pillow unzips and is made of down. Then you put the hotel pillow inside this down pillowcase. Now you have a sanitized pillowcase and a good feel of down.

“Any time a team is traveling for an hour or more on a plane, you will need some form of neck support.”

To read more of this article, purchase the Jan. 6, 2023 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. It explains why limiting the use of electronics an hour before bed is vital, how to handle jet lag, how to have a proper nightly sleep routine and much more.