Sleep and athletic performance go together

Sleep_and_Athletics_blog_photoWhen University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh recently said he believes that the No. 1 natural steroid is sleep, he voiced what sleep disorder physicians have known for years.

The link between sleep and athletic performance is not anecdotal. Studies show that sleep deprivation can decrease athletic performance, and extending sleep can improve athletic performance.

Sleep and timing

The same system that times sleep and wake (the circadian rhythm) also times peak performance, which can have ramifications for competition times and travel across time zones for competition.

  • In NFL games after 8 p.m. on the east coast, west coast teams are twice as likely to beat the point spread than east coast teams. This may be due to the fact that during late games, west coast teams (whose body clocks are still set on Pacific Standard Time) are playing closer to the peak time of physical performance.
  • After long-haul travel (6+ time zones) military personnel and elite athletes demonstrate reduced sprint speed, jump velocity, jump height and strength for up to 4-6 days. This is likely due to jet lag, where there is misalignment between the local time and the internal body clock, which disrupts sleep and physical performance.

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What you can do about insomnia

Woman with Insomnia

Don’t watch the clock if you have insomnia.

As a sleep medicine physician, I know first hand that insomnia troubles many people.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which a person is having difficulty falling sleep, maintaining sleep or waking up too early in the morning, despite having adequate time to sleep while in an environment that is conducive to sleep. Typically, if it takes you longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, you’re awake more than 30 minutes a night, or you wake up 30 minutes earlier than you would want to, chances are that you have insomnia.

There are things you can do on your own to sleep better—or, we hope, eliminate your insomnia altogether.  Continue reading

Paige Decker roots for Michigan NeuroSport

“They gave me hope again”

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Paige Decker talks with Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physician Miles Colwell, Jr., M.D.

When Yale senior hockey player Paige Decker took a hit on the ice in November 2013, she had no idea that she was about to embark on a journey that would take her to more than 40 health care professionals in both the U.S. and Canada.

“I had never had a concussion before,” says Decker. “I ended up playing during the next two days with symptoms, which wasn’t the best decision.”

But if Decker ever questioned herself, she shouldn’t. Many people “play through the pain,” even if the pain is concussion. Besides, she loved playing hockey in this Division 1 Team.  Continue reading

Tyler’s Hope funds promising dystonia research

william dauer, md, dystonia researchTyler Staab was a healthy, active 7-year-old in 2005, when his arm started shaking while shooting baskets. His symptoms increased while his family struggled to find a diagnosis.

Eventually, genetic testing confirmed a diagnosis for Tyler: a complex neurological disease known as dystonia.

Dystonia causes involuntary muscle spasms that twist the body. Genetic forms of the disease generally begin in childhood and worsen throughout adolescence.

Tyler’s dystonia is caused by an inherited DNA mutation, and is known as DYT1 dystonia. Tyler has grown into an incredible young man, but at 16, involuntary dystonic movements make it challenging for him to walk, eat or even to speak. His sister, Samantha, has been diagnosed with the disease as well. Their younger brother is at risk.

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At night, our cells may clean our brain

Process may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s

Studies in mice indicate that our brains may go through a process while we sleep that rids them of toxins that build up during the day

Did you ever wonder what happens to our brains at night? If recent studies in mice are any indication, our brains may go through a process that rids them of toxins that build up during the day.

The studies suggest that during sleep, there is an expansion of extracellular space within the brain that corresponds with increased fluid movement around and into the deep parts of the brain. This fluid movement is associated with a more robust exchange of small compounds into and out of the brain itself.

In mice studies, some of these compounds include toxic proteins—namely amyloid beta protein, which is implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. How external fluid moves into, within and out of the brain tissue still remains a mystery.  Continue reading

Chronic pain experience inspires new surgical offering

U-M physicians work with local couple to bring peripheral nerve surgery to Ann Arbor

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David L. Brown, MD, addresses the attendees and introduces A. Lee Dellon’s lecture, “Peripheral nerve surgery in 2015.”

After an accident, Sonya Persia went through several back, hip and neck surgeries, but new pain in her legs and feet never went away. Once Sonya and her husband Ray realized there are options beyond pain medication to improve her quality of life, they wanted to help others dealing with the same thing.

“Nobody knew what to do,” Ray Persia said, but they finally read an article about a procedure that fixes chronic pain caused by injury and/or compression of nerves.

The Persias traveled out of state for the surgeries, and now the couple from Highland, Mich., are advocates and donors, helping to bring the option of peripheral nerve surgery to patients at the U-M Health System.

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