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Energy to Sleep

Updated: May 14, 2019

When the body is sleeping in darkness, the heart is still beating. Many players have developed a fear of food (nutrients) before bed time. As long as the heart is still beating, it seems logical the body is expending energy. If a hockey player has burned an immense amount of energy on a game day and is depleted of nutrients, it could take a lot of energy to support the body for restful sleep.

As we live in a world where appearances can be deceiving of a person's health, there are many players that fuel their bodies based on appearances. In other words, they look at food to support appearance, rather than energy support for optimal performance. I have seen players with 6% body fat step on a scale after games; if their weight had increased, they can rationalize that their body doesn't deserve a lot of food after games. Many players would look at themselves in the weight room mirror and stare at themselves to see if their appearance makes sense based on what they saw on the scale. They don't always understand that the body's metabolism will be supported based on anything within the environment; especially how a player is raised. Therefore, every player is going to respond differently depending on their personal metabolism. Or better yet, each person will have their own energy requirements. Therefore, the generality of appearance, food quality and quantity, can mislead how a player fuels their body. In other words, because it's common in society to judge a person by their appearance, many hockey players can feed their bodies based on how they look and less about how they feel.


With respect to understanding the generality of the high stress window, it's an important time frame for all players to understand. The high stress window occurs for hockey players during games and post game. Their bodies become so depleted of nutrients that it can be left malnourished. When the body is left depleted of nutrients, it does not function properly. Many players would never realize that energy depletion can affect sleep function. Remember, the body needs energy support to optimize energy levels. It's the same for sleep function.


After games, many players can be hungry, but then there are some players that are not hungry. The ones that are not hungry, it could be a sign of an adaptation to stress and energy depletion. For the other players that are dying for the post game meal, this can make obvious sense because they are so depleted as well. However, many players are not getting the full picture with how important this time frame is. Many will consume a post game meal because it makes sense, but many think because it's apart of cultural standards. Just like having dinner. You do it because it's cultural, but how it affects the body and sleep function is an understanding that many players are not seeing the big picture yet.


In order for the body to find optimal relaxation, rest, and recovery, it can need energy to relax, or better yet, energy to sleep. And sometimes, the quantity could be larger than they could ever imagine. For players that find fear of eating before bed time, think about the idea that the heart is still beating 24 hours a day; therefore, calories are being expended 24 hours a day. An interesting thought to remember, as a person, upon waking in the morning, many people will wake up and look at themselves in the mirror to see how their stomach is looking. Let's be honest, in the morning, that's when the body looks the leanest because of fasting while sleeping. So if this is the case, this can be a good reminder to remember that eating before bed time doesn't necessarily make the body fatter in that moment.

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