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How "Good" is Your Sleep-->, FF Insider#95
October 20, 2010
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.

Finish First Sports Performance is the official training/performance coaching provider for the Youngstown Phantoms USHL Hockey Team, the Robert Morris Univeristy NCAA Division 1 Men's Ice Hockey Team, and the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Organization.

Inside this Issue:

To bring you the very best information, this newsletter focuses on awareness of the training principles for young athletes, and how to use them to make sure your coach is on the right track. Enjoy!

1. Performance: 10 Tips to Better Sleep for Optimal Recovery

2. Nutrition: Energy Drinks vs. Eating for Energy

3. Announcements

4. Featured Exericse

5. Motivational/Inspirational Quote

6. Thank You


10 Tips to Better Sleep for Optimal Recovery

By Jeremy S. Hoy, MS, CSCS, PES, USAW, Performance Scientist

Parents, athletes, and coaches have known for years that getting plenty of sleep is one of the most important factors in optimal recovery in sports.

However, it still seems that most athletes are sleep deprived and as a result, often not achieving full recovery from games, practices and/or workouts.

When discussing sleep, it is particularly important to understand that the greatest value is in getting deep sleep. Scientists say that there are 5 stages of sleep, beginning with light sleep, then moving on to deep sleep and finally REM sleep. Deep sleep occurs in stages 3 and 4. You can only get to stages 3 and 4 by first experiencing stages 1 and 2. All too often, our sleep is disrupted throughout the night, limiting our amount of deep sleep. Each time we are disrupted, we begin again at stage 1. It takes about 90 minutes for a complete cycle of stages 1 through 5. This is optimal: deep, uninterrupted sleep.

So, why is deep sleep so important?

This is where the body goes through natural restorative processes such as the release of growth hormone, which plays a major role in tissue repair (such as muscle). Not getting restful sleep and allowing the body to get to stages 3 and 4 denies the body of the best natural recovery methods available.

10 Tips to Better Sleep:

1. Make your room as dark as possible. Remove or eliminate any light sources such as computer monitors, TV’s, night lights, etc. If you cannot get the room really dark, you can try using a sleeping mask.

2. Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. Set the room temp to the way you feel most comfortable when you sleep. Our sleep cycles have a sensitivity to light. When our eyes and brain senses light, it sends a signal to “wake-up”, making it more difficult to get the deep sleep needed for optimal recovery.

3. Don’t eat high carbohydrate meals or snacks (or high glycemic foods—foods that digest quickly or spike your insulin levels rapidly such as white breads and starchy carbs) within 2 hours of going to bed. An acceptable snack would be something like a handful of almonds and an 8 oz glass of milk. The almonds have a slow release fat which will be metabolized slowly during the night, helping to fight any hunger pangs that might normally creep up during your sleep.

4. Remove any potential distractions or disruptions from your room (such as phone ringers, dogs barking, etc.). Remember, it is key to have uninterrupted sleep.

5. Add white noise from items such as fans, humidifiers, etc, or wear earplugs. It is important to keep it as quiet as possible. I know many people who like to fall asleep to the sound of the TV. Quite often, they are disrupted several times throughout the night by loud infomercials, flashy lights or other distractions from the TV. Replace the TV with a fan if you need noise.

6. Relax the mind and body before going to bed. It is almost impossible to fall asleep within 30 minutes after an intense workout. Relax the body, and relax the mind. Read a book, or meditate (really nice if you have a massage chair!) and prepare the mind and body for sleep.

7. Avoid too much caffeine consumption. Also avoid caffeine consumption after 2pm. Consuming large amounts of caffeine will have an effect on your sleep. If you are having trouble staying awake, try some physical activity. Do a few push-ups, sit-ups, stretch, jog around the room, jumping jacks, berpies, etc.—I think you understand.

8.Go to bed and wake-up at the same time every day. Consistency here is the key. The human body/mind likes consistency. Getting use to sleeping and waking at the same time daily helps create a rhythm and helps you achieve deep sleep on a more regular basis.

9. Get 8-9 hours of sleep daily. I know this is very tough for many of us, but studies still show that this is optimal. 9 hours is more preferred for teenagers or college athletes, while 8 hours is preferred for adults. If you cannot get 8-9 hours of sleep, refer to Tip #10.

10. Schedule your sleep in 90 minute intervals to help promote getting deep sleep. If you know you can only get between 4 and 5 hours of sleep on a given night, set your alarm for 4.5 hours. Waking up at the end of a sleep cycle (90min) will help you feel refreshed. Waking up in the middle or at the beginning will make you feel more sleep deprived and tired throughout the day.

Much has been written over the years regarding sleep studies and sports recovery. Taking advantage of your sleep as a recovery tool is a great way to help optimize your athletic performance. If you are currently an in-season athlete, using recovery strategies and techniques, such as maximizing deep sleep and proper nutrition, are keys to performing at your best consistently throughout the duration of the season AND reducing your risk of getting injured.

For more information about sleep and performance, please contact me to schedule an educational session. You can reach me at 412.787.5070 or


Energy Drinks or Eating for Energy?

By Heather R Mangieri, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN Finish First Sports Performance Nutrition Advisor, Visit Heather’s Website

“I want more energy!”

I hear it regularly from my clients, friends, family and even people on the street. Everyone is looking for a way to feel recharged, energized and more alert. So, let’s face it, with a name like “energy drink” who wouldn’t want to know more. The reality is energy drinks are hot! Here’s what you need to know.

Energy drinks are beverages that contain large amounts of caffeine and sugar, along with other ingredients such as B vitamins, amino acids and herbal stimulants such as guarana and ginseng. Names like Red Bull, Monster, Speed Shot, Full Throttle and Adrenaline Rush--The list is endless! They may contain up to 80 mg of caffeine which is equivalent to a cup of coffee.

While loads of sugar and caffeine may provide you with a temporary boost, that’s not all they will give you.

The excess caffeine in these beverages can cause nervousness, irritability, increased heart rate, blood pressure and even insomnia.

Though excess caffeine affects individuals differently, the mix of caffeine with other herbal ingredients can exacerbate the effects.

Further, the high concentration of sugar may slow the body’s ability to absorb water. This makes energy drinks a bad choice for athletes. Equally important, the uplifting effects of energy drinks are short lived. When they wear off you’ll feel anything but energized.

If weight loss is your goal, drinking the extra sugar is not only going to provide you with excess empty calories, but the extra caffeine may be counterproductive in getting proper sleep- something we know is important when working toward weight maintenance or weight loss.

Another serious concern is the mixture of energy drinks with alcohol.

Since energy drinks are stimulants and alcohol is a depressant, the combination of these effects may be dangerous. The stimulant effects from the energy drink may mask the effects of the alcohol, leaving you feeling less intoxicated than you really are.

Alcohol also acts as a diuretic.

Dehydration can hinder your body’s ability to metabolize alcohol and will increase the toxicity, and therefore hangover. The effects will affect you not only the next day but for many days after.

So, how do you boost your energy levels naturally?

The first thing is to evaluate what is causing the fatigue.

Perhaps you need to get more sleep.

We all lead very busy lives and often this is easier said than done. Nutritionally speaking, it is important to be getting enough calories- and the right kinds. Skimping on calories decreases metabolic rate as the body works to try to conserve energy. This is often the reason why those that skip out on needed calories feel fatigued. As metabolism slows, the body begins to burn fewer calories, possibly leading to weight gain.

One of the easiest ways to get the body going is to eat breakfast. Consuming a balance of carbohydrates, protein and a little fat helps to wake your body up and keep you satisfied until your next meal. Finding a healthy balance of nutrients through the day can make a world of difference in feeling energized.


  • Congrats to Robert Morris Univeristy NCAA Men's Division I Ice Hockey Team on their great start...4 - 0! Keep up the hard work and determination. It's an honor to work with such a good group of guys and be a part of their journey!
  • Finish First Sports Performance is currently working on our website--expect some changes over the next few weeks---changes that will make it easier to navigate and find what you are looking for!
  • Finish First Sports Performance is also currently working on our first podcast, a downloadable auido file that will provide training tips, coach interviews, athlete interviews, and other useful information.
  • Finish First Sports Performance will be joining this weekend to judge the Miss York County Scholarship Pageant (both Teen and Miss), which is a preliminary pageant (qualifier) for the Miss PA Pageant next summer (2011).
  • Finish First Sports Performance will be unveiling a new Hockey Logo in the next few weeks---yes, it will definitely be cool and you're gonna want a shirt with it on!
  • Finish First Sports Performance is making progress on the new World-Class training facility and there's already a buzz in the Pittsburgh area about it...drawings and details to come in the next few weeks.

Featured Exercise: Wall Groin Stretch

This is a great exercise to stretch the groin. This can be used to help correct some imbalances that cause the knees to move "inward" during certain movements. Additionally, exercises would be needed to strengthen the muscles outside the hip (opposing muscle groups), but for the purpose of this video, keep in mind that you are working towards improving performance and decreasing the risk of injury. Begin by holding this stretch 20 -30 seconds for 2-3 reps. Take about 20-30 seconds rest between each. As you can tolerate it longer, increase the time of each stretch and try to move your feet closer to the floor. Keep your back flat on the floor and your butt and heels against the wall.

Motivational Quote

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-- Orison Swett Marden

Thank You for Your Support

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

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