After games, as a player is trying to rest and unwind for night time rest, relaxation can be difficult. As a result, thoughts can start circling and circling as a player is thinking of solutions and thinking aimlessly. Most of the time, it can lead to staring at the phone, Ipad, or television. As the body can lack energy to relax and sleep peacefully, the mind can start wandering because it can lack energy to focus.
It can be similar to when a person goes all day without eating; the slightest irritation can bother them emotionally because they are so depleted of food as energy. Just like if you were at a carnival or the zoo; walking all day without eating can leave a person fatigued and irritable. Sometimes, not the most rationale thinking until they eat again. Post Game can have many similarities but the effects can be more extensive. Post Game Sleeplessness can start occurring from severe energy depletion after a long day of 'game day preparation and activities.' I stress 'preparation and activities' because it's not just the game itself that has depleted the player. At many competitive levels such as college, junior, and professional, there can be warm ups for morning skates, morning skates, recovery prehab from morning skates, off ice warm ups for games, on ice warm ups for games, the game itself, occasional overtimes, and the occasional extra conditioning sessions that some players do when they are unhappy with their game. That's a lot of activity during a game day.
Even more critical, this game day routine can be duplicated throughout the year over the course of a long career. If a player doesn't adequately support their body with energy support, a player can become fatigued but restless at the same time. When a player becomes restless, the thoughts start circling because the mind may not have enough energy to relax and rest peacefully. If energy support remains inadequate over long periods of time, then the cycle of sleeplessness can remain constant. Once a hockey player can truly understand how demanding the game can be, they can think more critically and creatively of how to properly support their bodies with adequate energy support.
I call post game the 'High Stress Window'. It's the time where the body is the most depleted and energy replenishment is necessary to bring stress down. However, players can be surprised that it can take a lot of energy to relax and rest peacefully. When working with Brent Sopel, former Stanley Cup Champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, when recording his calories expended on a 24 hour game day, there were some days he burned 10,000-12,000 calories. And some days, he only consumed 6,000-8,000 calories on a game day. If this is the case for many players, they could be missing tremendous amounts of energy replenishment to support their game. Especially, if they do not utilize the right amount of energy after games during the 'High Stress Window.'
Every player is going to respond differently; however, the general theme is that poor relaxation and post game sleeplessness is a side effect of not properly replenishing the body with nutrients and lifestyle support.