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Vitamin zZz: How Sleep Impacts Health and Performance

By USA Hockey, 06/16/17, 8:00AM MDT


Sleep is a hot topic among doctors and sports scientists

With more than 40 percent of Americans getting less than the ideal amount of sleep, it’s easy to understand why sleep is such a hot topic among doctors and sports scientists.  Lack of sleep has been shown to cause health problems such as weight gain, increased stroke risk, and other illnesses, in addition to research showing that sleep quality can have a significant impact on active performance.

Professional athletes such as LeBron James, Roger Federer, and Usain Bolt are on record as saying they need to sleep 10-12 hours a night to perform at their highest level. Two-thirds of athletes report worse than normal sleep the night before competition, while an evaluation of professional hockey players showed the percentage reporting sleep disturbances doubles in season.  Student athletes who sleep less than eight hours a night are two times more likely to suffer an injury within a month.

Sleep deprivation can lead to decreased alertness, reaction time, and memory. Sleep loss can lead to potential decreases in immune system function and a reduction in the release of growth hormone, as well as the hormones leptin and adiponectin – both of which play major roles in fat gain and loss.

Sleep has been shown to directly impact exercise abilities:

  • Well-rested tennis players have a 4.2% increase in hitting accuracy
  • Well-rested swimmers showed a 17% improvement in starting times
  • Well-rested football players dropped 0.1 second off their 40-yard dash time
  • Well-rested basketball players increased free throw and 3-point shooting percentage by 9% each
  • Under-rested athletes lost 20 pounds off their bench press after only 4 days of inadequate sleep
  • Perceived exhaustion increased 18% after only 30 hours of sleep loss
  • Sleep loss led to an 11% increase in time to exhaustion

Fortunately, the foods you eat can play and important role in your ability to sleep.

Protein consumption before bed is linked to improved recovery from exercise and ability to train the next day, while also promoting increases in strength gains and muscle mass. Adding cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or a small whey protein shake before bed can help your sleep.

Warm Milk has long been believed to help achieve a good night’s sleep; however, many of the early theories have been disproven. Now, however, studies have shown that milk from cow’s milked at night have higher levels of melatonin, which helps regulate sleep, as well as vitamin D, and vitamin D supplementation has been shown to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep.

Tart Cherries have been shown to promote sleep by helping individuals fall asleep faster and spend less time awake throughout the night.

Kiwifruit consumption in individuals with self-reported sleep disorders improved both total time asleep and the amount of time spent in bed actually sleeping.

Nuts and Seeds are high in the mineral magnesium, and deficiencies in magnesium can lead to insomnia and “restless leg” at night. Magnesium helps maintain normal levels of blood pressure and blood sugar and promotes relaxation, which promotes a better sleep environment.

Lights Out – one study has shown that two hours of exposure to smartphones, tablets, and laptop displays decreases melatonin – which regulates sleep cycles – by more than 20 percent. Use of these devices should be limited before bed, or at a minimum, turned on night mode or dimmed. Supplementing with melatonin should be considered, as well as eating foods naturally containing melatonin such as pineapples, bananas, oranges, oats, and tomatoes.


  1. Markwald R. Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013.
  2. Res P, Groen B, Pennings B, et al. Protein Ingestion before sleep Improves post-exercise overnight recovery. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2012.
  3. Tuomilehto H, Vuorinen V, Penttilä E, et al. Sleep of professional athletes: Underexploited potential to improve health and performance. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2016.
  4. Milewski M, Skaggs D, Bishop G, et al. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. 2014.
  5. Mah C, Mah K, Kezirian E, Dement W. The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep. 2011.
  6. Mah C, Mah K, Dement W. Sleep extension in collegiate athletes. PsycEXTRA Dataset.
  7. Smith R, Efron B, Mah D, Malhotra A. The impact of circadian misalignment on athletic performance in professional football players. Sleep. 2013.
  8. Halson S. Sleep in elite athletes and nutritional interventions to enhance sleep. Sports Med Sports Medicine. 2014.
  9. St. Onge M, Mikic A, Pietrolungo C. Effects of diet on sleep quality. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal. 2016.
  10. Wood B, Rea M, Plitnick B, Figueiro M. Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression. Applied Ergonomics. 2013.

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American Officials Earn 2018 Olympic Assignments

By USA Hockey 11/29/2017, 9:30am MST

Seven referees, linesmen will work the PyeongChang 2018 Games

Someone once said that, “Officiating is the only vocation where you are expected to start out perfect and then only get better from there.” It’s true, officials face plenty of scrutiny every time they step on to the ice, and it’s unlikely that you will be able to please both teams with every call throughout the course of the game.

To make our job even more unique, you get a variety of “input” from players, coaches and spectators about your performance. Sometimes you’ll take those comments to heart in order to improve, other times you’ll tune the chatter out, knowing it’s not exactly helpful.

When it comes to our job in managing officials registration and education programs, things aren’t that much different. The Officiating Program leadership, made up of the Officials Section which is comprised of volunteer district referees-in-chief charged with establishing policy, finds it difficult to keep our 25,000 officiating members happy all of the time, while also balancing a commitment to the game of providing capable officiating.

They too hear a lot of chatter throughout the season, some of which is simply impractical and self-serving and tends to get tuned out, while some of it is heard loud and clear as legitimate concerns or ideas on how things could be improved. In any case, time is needed to explore the effect on the big picture and carefully think through all the possible ramifications of any change that is made for the betterment of the entire program, and ultimately, the game itself.

Consider the beginning of the USA Hockey Officiating Education Program back in 1983 when Mark Rudolph was brought in as the first director of the Officiating Education Program. It started with manuals, then the establishment of the summer development camps and instructor training programs, followed by the development of a more formal seminar program and open-book testing. It has continued to evolve to become the internationally recognized program you are part of today.

Along the way, there has been a tremendous amount of change taking place – much of which was actually suggested and encouraged by you, our membership. The digital age started electronic registration, then electronic testing, and more recently, the development of the online seminar curriculum. All of these ideas came from voices within our membership and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. 

Sure, there have been a few naysayers suggesting we will lose membership as we make certain changes, or they say that we demand too much from our officials. After all, change is rarely easy and some people just don’t like it because it alters their routines. However, over the years and regardless of the changes that have taken place, the Officiating Program has seen growth in membership in 30 of the 35 years, and has continued to do business with only a couple of moderate fee increases. It is also important to realize that when change does occur, time is necessary to be able to fully evaluate the effect of that change. That has been especially true with the significant change in implementing the online seminar curriculum, now in its fourth season. This part of the educational process has been tweaked each season and culminated with a significant reduction in the time commitment necessary to complete all of the modules during the 2017-18 season.

Now that time has passed and as technology continues to advance, the Officials Section has spent the past 10 months evaluating our registration/education program and continuing to listen to membership feedback in an effort to continue to streamline the registration process while maximizing the educational benefit. The work of a sub-committee charged with this task has recently been completed and presented to the entire Officials Section, and received a positive response. Much of the specifics and details of the recommended changes moving forward will be finalized in the coming months, but we wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the likely proposed changes to the registration process you will see for the 2018-19 season. 

  • More streamlined and level-specific open-book testing. The Level 2, 3 and 4 open-book exams will be reduced to 50 questions. The open-book exam questions will be intended to be more level-appropriate and will focus on certain areas of the rules that require absolute knowledge and proper application for successful officiating.
  • Returning Level 3 and Level 4 (meaning their second or more season at that level) will have the option to test out of the elective module portions of their respective online seminar curriculum. They will still need to complete a required section that covers areas of emphasis, but when it comes to the electives, they can take the quiz prior to watching the video and if successfully passed, will get credit for completing that module.
  • Officials will be required to advance to Level 2 after a certain amount of time at Level 1.  The officials may then continue to advance or may choose to stay at level 2.
  • Pending approval by the board of directors, the Officials Section is recommending a slight change in the USA Hockey registration fee structure. Look for a two-tiered system to be in play next season where Level 1 officials (restricted to no more than two years at Level 1) pay one fee, while all others will pay a different fee.
  • Development of a new “tenured” member type for Level 3 and Level 4 officials. Officials will be eligible to apply for this tenured status after a certain number of years completed at Level 3 or 4. They will obtain tenured status by meeting specific requirements, including attendance at a national-level symposium. Once tenured status is obtained, officials will retain Level 3 or 4 status for as long as they continue to register with USA Hockey and fulfill the minimum annual requirements.  The “tenured” officials program is targeted to start with the 2019-20 season.

    More information will be coming as specifics are finalized. Be sure to read the STRIPES newsletter and in the coming months for updates and more specific information on what you can expect as your officiating career continues.

Shorthanded skill plays becoming the new normal

By USA Hockey 11/29/2017, 8:30am MST