Student-Athletes Not Sleeping Enough, Intervention Could Help

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This article was submitted by University of Arizona News courtesy of Michael Grandner, UA College of Medicine….feel free to comment on this article below…..

stresssleepingCollege athletes are not getting enough sleep, but a simple intervention built around education and support could go a long way in improving sleep quality and, in turn, athletic performance, University of Arizona researchers said during the NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

Michael Grandner, assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology and director of the Sleep Health Research Center at the UA College of Medicine, and Amy Athey, director of clinical and sport psychology services for Arizona Athletics, were awarded an NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant last year to study sleep habits in college athletes. They were one of four teams awarded the NCAA grant, which supports studies designed to enhance student-athletes’ psychosocial well-being and mental health.

Together, Grandner and Athey developed Project REST – which stands for Recovery Enhancement and Sleep Training – to encourage student-athletes to develop healthier sleeping habits. They presented their findings at the NCAA’s annual convention on Thursday.

In a survey of 189 UA student-athletes, Grandner and Athey found that 68 percent reported poor sleep quality, with 87 percent getting less than or equal to eight hours of sleep a night and 43 percent getting less than seven hours. About 23 percent of the athletes surveyed reported experiencing excessive levels of fatigue.

While seven hours is considered the minimum amount of sleep a typical adult should get, college students – especially highly active ones, like athletes – need at least eight to nine hours for optimal functioning, Grandner said in an interview.

“Student-athletes have a lot of reasons why their sleep would be disturbed,” Grandner said. “They have a lot of time demands, they have a lot of physical demands, they have a lot of mental demands, and they’re trying to balance athletics, academics and sometimes employment, and this can set up the perfect storm for bad sleep.”

Poor sleep can have far-reaching effects, no matter who you are. For athletes, it can impact not only the way they feel physically and mentally but how they perform in their sport, Grandner said.

“Some of the most prominent effects of disturbed sleep can be reduced physical performance, reduced mental and cognitive performance, reduced recovery time from injury and worse mental health,” Grandner said. Slower reaction times, impaired decision-making abilities and even depression can result from poor sleep, he added.

While many programs exist to address student-athletes’ nutrition and fitness, Grandner and Athey didn’t know of any that specifically target student-athletes’ sleep, so they developed Project REST – a model they hope may be adopted by college athletics programs nationwide.

The researchers enrolled 40 student-athletes in the intervention program, which started with a two-hour education and Q&A session that covered what good sleep is and why it is important and tips for improving sleep. Study participants then wore Fitbits to track their sleep habits over a 10-week period, and recorded information about the duration and quality of their sleep in online sleep diaries.

Throughout the study, students had 24/7 access to peers trained to support them and answer their questions. Participants also received daily text messages from study coordinators, including reminders about the study, tips for healthy sleep and random sleep facts. About half of the participants also received sunglasses designed to block UV and blue light, and a programmable light bulb.

At the end of the study period, participants reported a number of positive effects, including better sleep quality, less insomnia, more energy and less time spent lying awake in bed. Nearly 83 percent of the student-athletes said their sleep was better, and nearly 89 percent felt their athletic performance was positively affected. They also reported less stress and greater ability to focus.

The most useful part of the intervention, according to participants, was the initial information session. They also liked being able to monitor sleep habits with the Fitbit.

Athey, who works directly with the student-athlete population as a psychologist for Arizona Athletics, often encounters students with sleep issues, and says the data from the study backs up what she already suspected anecdotally.

When students come to Athey with sleep issues, she encourages them to make minor lifestyle adjustments to improve sleep – like maintaining a consistent sleep schedule or reducing exposure to mobile-device screens close to bedtime, for example – while more severe problems are referred to a sleep specialist.

Athey is optimistic that her partnership with Grandner, a sleep expert, can help introduce useful tools to the larger student-athlete population.

“With a really simple educational intervention and opportunities for learning over a number of weeks, student-athletes were able to make changes that had a real impact,” she said of Project REST.

While Grandner and Athey targeted the student-athlete population specifically, Project REST could be modified and adopted by different campus groups nationwide, since college students across-the-board often struggle with sleep, Grandner said.

“It’s just education and support,” he said. “There’s no reason this should be limited to student-athletes.”

Are You Really Getting Enough Exercise?

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An interesting topic from this past May courtesy of PRWeb, please share your comments below…..

BikingWorkouts that promise fitness with as little as four to seven minutes of high-intensity exercise a day are alluring. But can you really stay fit with such a small time commitment? “No,” says Dr. Howard Knuttgen, research associate in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, in the May 2015 Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

Dr. Knuttgen has a file of articles and ads dating back to the 1960s promoting exercise regimens that offer to keep you fit with little investment of either time or effort. “This is exercise quackery. If a program sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” he says.

Exercise is any activity that uses muscles to generate force. The more force exerted, the more exercise. In general, aerobic workouts (also called cardiovascular workouts) call for moving the body by walking, running, cycling, rowing, swimming, or another activity. Strength-building workouts involve moving an object like a weight or working against resistance.

It doesn’t work to skimp on either intensity or amount of exercise. So how much aerobic activity is enough? Current guidelines suggest 150 minutes a week of “moderate aerobic exercise.” But a brisk clip for some people can be a snail’s pace for others. Using the talk test can help identify moderate activity: Not being able to carry on a conversation during the activity means it is strenuous. Being able to sing easily means it is too easy, and warrants stepping up the pace.

Strength training two to three times a week is also helpful. Always rest a day in between strength-training sessions.

Read the full-length article: “Are you getting enough exercise?”

Also in the May 2015 Harvard Women’s Health Watch:

* New options for treating menopause symptoms

* Easier colonoscopy preps

* 6 ways to use the mind to control pain

* How to get personalized healthcare

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/womens or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

Whole Foods Vs. Supplements – Are Whole Foods Really Enough?

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By Jordan Layton

vitaminsSupplements have become tremendously popular in recent years, not only among athletes, but also among everyday people seeking the keys to youth, vitality and longevity. It seems there isn’t a disease or ailment in existence that can’t be prevented by regular consumption of a specific vitamin, mineral, herb or other nutrient. With so many different products on the market, you might find yourself wondering if it’s even possible to optimize your health without the use of supplements.

The Benefits of Whole Foods

Fortunately, the answer to that question is yes. By eating a variety of the right whole foods, you can achieve high levels of dietary health and physical fitness. In fact, research finds that whole foods are actually a far better option than supplements alone. The reason for this is what is known as Food Synergy or Nutritional Synergy.

Food Synergy

The vitamins and minerals found in a given food are not the only ingredients that offer health benefits.

The vitamins and minerals found in a given food are not the only ingredients that offer health benefits. They are interlinked with various other biological compounds. This interactive system of commonly known nutrients and their counterparts is believed to be the real source of nutrition, not just the vitamins and minerals themselves.

For example, the phytonutrient Lycopene (most notably found in tomatoes) was discovered to help prevent prostate cancer. Interestingly, studies tracking the use of synthetic Lycopene supplements have provided inconclusive results with regard to cancer prevention. But studies focusing on the consumption of tomato sauce consistently showed that just two servings a week could reduce the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 23%.

The Biological Web of Nutrition

Essentially, what researchers are finding is that calcium, vitamin C and pretty much all other nutrients are not solely responsible for the benefits they are expected to provide. It is the combination of said nutrients and their entire biological web of interlinking compounds that give our bodies the nourishment they need. Supplements offer just one link in that complex chain. You wouldn’t expect a plant to grow without sunshine and water. Likewise, you can’t expect five oranges worth of vitamin C tablets to provide you with the same nutritional benefits as five actual oranges would.

Supplements Step In

That’s not to say that supplements are unhealthy or even useless. It’s just that they were never meant to replace nutrients that are available in whole foods. The intended use of a supplement is communicated in its name. It’s meant to supplement your diet and provide some nutrition where there might be a deficiency. Used in this way, they make an excellent addition to your whole foods diet.
Bio

– Jordan Layton is a professional health and wellness writer for Sports Nutrition.

Is Half Hour Of Daily Exercise Enough?

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stretchbridgeFrom Your Health Journal…..”A very important article that I had to promote from News.com.au written by Fiona Baker entitled Is Half Hour Of Daily Exercise Enough?. As you know, we have discussed here many times about the obesity epidemic facing the youth of the world, for adults and children. Obesity related illnesses are up, including heart disease, cancer, weak joints, asthma, and type 2 diabetes. Experts state that improving your diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and proper hydration – along with less sedentary lifestyle are keys to reducing obesity. Many times, it is suggested that 60 minutes of physical activity is what we should strive for each day. In today’s article, the author asks if 60 minutes of activity is needed in her home country of Australia, despite national guidelines of 30 minutes? In the United States, it is recommended that people try to get 60 minutes of activity each day. To me, whether 30 or 60 minutes, everyone should strive to get some form of physical activity each day, as some activity is better than none. In our busy lifestyles, I think many of us wish we had the hour to spare, but many of us do not have this time. But, research suggests that the 60 minutes can be broken up in segments. So, if you go for a 30 minute jog some time during the day, but make time to walk or perform calisthenics at some point during the day, it may be possible for many to get their 60 minutes. Regardless, take the time to read Ms. Baker’s wonderful article. It was insightful and informative. The link is provided below.”

From the article…..

Is 60 minutes how much exercise we should be doing a day, despite national guidelines of 30 minutes?

Stepping up your exercise – even in small ways – is the best way to ensure optimal health and well-being.

Half an hour of activity a day may be good for general health but it’s half as much as most of us need to avoid becoming overweight or obese. That’s the growing consensus as the developed world’s obesity epidemic gathers speed and people’s activity levels fail to keep up with their food consumption.

Now Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has suggested the daily activity recommendation may need to be doubled to an hour to fight the nation’s growing weight problem, unless we make big changes to what we eat. “In the current environment of abundant availability, promotion and consumption of energy-dense food, it is now internationally recommended that 45 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity daily physical activity is the minimum required… without reduction in current energy intake,” the NHMRC writes in its newly released report, Eat For Health.

“At least 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (a day) or lesser amounts of vigorous activity may be required to prevent weight regain in formerly obese people,” it says.

Dr Amanda Lee, the chair of the NHMRC’s Dietary Guidelines working committee, is careful about being too insistent that activity levels need to rise or double to slow the obesity epidemic. She doesn’t want Australians to feel overwhelmed by the need to find more time to exercise when many struggle to even clock up 30 minutes a day.

“At this stage the national activity guidelines still recommend 30 minutes of moderate activity a day. Even then, not even 50 per cent of the population is managing that,” she says. “So I would be reluctant to tell everyone that they now need to find an hour.”

To read the complete article…..Click here