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Finish First Insider, Issue #37
December 11, 2008
Welcome Back


Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes.

How Important is Sleep in Achieving Peak Athletic Performance?

By Coach J. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Ok, so you know that sleep is important, but you may not know why and how it affects athletic performance. I’d like to share with you some information from a few recent articles with evidence from research about sleep and sports performance.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation occurs as a result of a lack of necessary sleep. Sleep disorders, or poor sleeping habits (inconsistent schedule, exercise before going to bed, or other issues causing restless sleep) lead to chronic sleep deprivation. According to Dr. Sudhansu Chokroverty in his book "100 Q&A About Sleep and Sleep Disorders, Second Edition (100 Questions & Answers about . . .),” “sleep deprivation causes fatigue; sleepiness; deterioration of performance, attention, and motivation; and diminishment of mental concentration and intellectual capacity (p. 4).”

Knowing that peak athletic performance relies on prolonging fatigue, concentrated attention, the ability to process mentally and make quick decisions, and high levels of motivation, it is no wonder that athletes who are not getting sufficient sleep are not performing either consistently at a high level or not at a high level at all (ever). In a previous newsletter (issue #28), I gave 10 tips for optimal sleep—if you are having difficulty sleeping, begin by trying the suggestions outlined in the article.

Across Time Zones

A study by Mary Carskadon, PhD, of the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, not only confirmed the statements by Dr. Sudhansu, but also added that adolescent athletes who don’t get enough sleep (chronic sleep deprivation) on a regular basis are extremely impaired in the morning. This is important for athletes traveling westward across time zones to compete. The athlete from the east would be more alert at an early morning competition than the athlete from the west. To combat this, the western athlete should prepare by waking at the earlier time to get adjusted.

Decreased Glucose Metabolism

In his studies, Eve Van Cauter, PhD, from the University of Chicago Medical School, found that sleep deprived individuals metabolize glucose less efficiently, and they have higher levels of cortisol (a stress hormone linked to memory impairment, age-related insulin resistance, and impaired recovery in athletics).

Because glucose and glycogen are the main energy sources for athletes (carbohydrates), any impairment of the glucose storage process (in muscle and the liver) can affect the energy needed for competition and optimal performance. Inhibited Muscle Tissue Repair

It is also noted that increased cortisol levels may interfere with muscle tissue repair and growth. Elevated levels of cortisol have been also linked to increases in hunger—you would eat more food, but the processes of breaking the food down for energy storage or tissue repair have been impaired, so this food would most likely cause unwanted, unhealthy weight gain.

Increased Fat Storage

Some studies have even further suggested that slower glycogen issues caused by sleep deprivation may lead to higher blood insulin levels which then lead to an increase in fat storage (unhealthy weight gain). An increase in blood sugar levels may lead to adult onset diabetes (type 2).

Good News About Extra Sleep

According to a study reported in the Science Daily news (view article), athletes who get extra sleep over an extended period of time actually improve athletic performance, mood, and alertness. The study was done using college athletes at Stanford University, with both male and female athletes. The extra sleep was a total of 10 hours each night for 6-7 weeks. As a result, the athletes were able to reduce their sleep debt and improve their performance. It is recommended not only to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but also to get extra sleep for several days prior to major competitions.

If it is possible, extra sleep for several weeks leading up to a major tournament, showcase event, or international competition, you should do it. You will help reduce your sleep debt and help ensure an increase in your peak athletic performance. Getting sufficient sleep (restful sleep) is a crucial element in obtaining you peak athletic performance.

What Exactly is a Breakfast of Champions?

By Heather Rae Mangieri, MS, RD, LDN, Finish First Sports Performance Sports Nutrition Advisor

Whether it is because you hit the snooze button one too many times or because you just have a lot to do, mornings are too often a time of chaos, confusion and commotion. So how in the world are you supposed to get a healthy breakfast eaten when you barely have time to brush your teeth?

First, let’s discuss why you should care about eating breakfast. Truthfully, the benefits are endless. Better concentration, attention span and memory are all aspects that will help with sports performance and also scholastic performance.

Individuals that eat breakfast are also found to have an improved overall fiber and carbohydrate intake, greater physical activity levels and lower overall BMI’s than those that skipped their morning meal (1).

Further, teens that eat breakfast are more likely to have diets that are adequate in iron, an important nutrient in preventing fatigue. Eating breakfast gets your body going, and the sooner you get going, the more you will get accomplished.

So what exactly is a “Breakfast of Champions”? Pop Tarts, Frosted Flakes, Pancakes, Oatmeal? These are all breakfast foods, but which one of these is the best choice for starting our day?

To start with, avoid foods such as pastries and donuts (pop tarts, toaster strudels and cinnamon rolls to name a few more). These foods are loaded with calories, fat and sugar and are low in other important nutrients. These foods tend to leave us feeling tired and also do not keep us full for very long. Instead, choose foods higher in fiber and full of vitamins and minerals such as whole grain breads, bagels and/or cereals, fruits and milk. These foods help us to feel full for longer and provide us with a variety of nutrients we will need to perform our best throughout the day.

Try some of these healthy breakfast ideas to give your body the fuel it needs to be its best:

When you have more time:

--Whole grain cereal (raisin bran as an example) with low-fat or skim milk and a sliced banana

--Scrambled eggs, 2 slices whole grain toast, 1 slice Canadian bacon and ½ cup orange juice

--Egg/Egg white omelet (using I whole egg and 2 egg whites) stuffed with one slice cheese, ham and vegetables such as peppers, onions, mushrooms with 2 slices whole grain toast and water

--Oatmeal (plain or with granola), small apple

When You Have Less Time:

--Dry cereal mixed with dried fruit, nuts and a cup of low-fat or skim milk

--Hardboiled egg, a banana, 1 slice peanut butter bread Yogurt with granola and fruit

--Bagel with peanut butter and jelly

--Fresh Fruit (banana, apple or orange) with a package of string cheese

(1) Timlin, MT., et al. Breakfast Eating and Weight Change in a 5-year Prospective Analysis of Adolescents: project EAT (Eating Among Teens). Pediatrics. 2008;121(3): e638-e645.

Motivational Sports Quotes

I've always felt it was not up to anyone else to make me give my best.
-- Hakeem Olajuwan

To give yourself the best possible chance of playing to your potential, you must prepare for every eventuality. That means practice.
-- Seve Ballesteros

The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self improvement, about being better than you were the day before.
-- Steve Young

Successful athletes wake up in the morning and think: what can I do today to be better than I was yesterday? Every day they try to find a way to improve.
-- Coach J. Hoy

Give the Gift of Finish First Sports Performance Logo Apparel This Holiday Season!

Finish First Sports Performance Logo Apparel and Items

T's, Athletic T's, Hoodies, Jackets, Hats, Stickers

All for sale online!

Take a look at the logo apparel store.

Holiday Training Center Hours

The Finish First Sports Performance World Headquarters Training Center will have the following Holiday hours:

Wednesday, December 24th: 9am - 3pm

Thursday, December 25th: CLOSED

Friday, December 26th: CLOSED

Saturday, December 27th: CLOSED (BUT MAY CHANGE)

Sunday, December 28th: CLOSED

Monday, December 29th: Normal hours of operation

Tuesday, December 30th: Normal hours of operation

Wednesday, December 31st: Normal hours of operation

Thursday, January 1st, 2009: Normal hours of operation

Christmas Newsletter

Due to the busyness and family obligations during the Christmas Holiday, there will not be a Finish First Insider newsletter during the week of December 25th.

There will also not be a newsletter on the week of Jan 1st, 2009 (I will be attending many athletic events to watch Finish First Athletes in Action!).

Thanks for making it a great 2008! Please have a great Holiday Season and expect more great newsletters in 2009!

Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at Please visit for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance

For Finish First Insider backissues #1 - 29, click here

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