Athletes awaken to the link between sleep and sports performance.

Research says sleeping longer makes athletes play better, and teams tracking sleep stats to find advantages.

Rangers slugger Prince Fielder took part in a sleep study after having trouble getting rest during spring training. Increasingly, pro athletes and teams are becoming more aware of the link between proper rest and success.

Rangers slugger Prince Fielder took part in a sleep study after having trouble getting rest during spring training. Increasingly, pro athletes and teams are becoming more aware of the link between proper rest and success.

Rangers slugger Prince Fielder took part in a sleep study after having trouble getting rest during spring training. Increasingly, pro athletes and teams are becoming more aware of the link between proper rest and success.

As a kinesiology student Alex Malone has a keen awareness of the link between recovery and performance, but didn’t always think it applied to him. One day last winter the star running back at U of T headed into an intense weight training session on five hours sleep, but still figured he could dead-lift 600 pounds.

He made the lift, but as he put the barbell down blood tricked from his nose. Then it flowed. And then he admitted to himself he wasn’t sleeping enough to support his heavy lifting.

“Sometimes I’ve had enough rest days that I should be performing well, but I’m physically and mentally exhausted,” says Malone, who sleeps seven hours a day in season but less than six over the winter.

These days, athletes at U of T regularly complete sleep questionnaires to help coaches manage their workloads, and across the broader world of high-level sport sleep is getting more attention than ever.

Last week, fitful sleep forced Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder to leave spring training in Arizona and head to a sleep clinic, where he was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

In Florida, the New York Yankees pushed practice time back to noon to allow players to sleep later and perform better.

It’s not just a matter of telling players to get more rest. Increasingly, teams are tracking sleep like any other stat, using the data they glean to adjust schedules and gain an edge in competition.

The Raptors are one of a growing number of pro and NCAA outfits working with Vancouver-based Fatigue Science, a small firm that provides sleep monitoring data for clients in high-level sports and heavy industry.

“We’ve seen this shift from subjective to more objective data,” says Jeff Zeilstra, Fatigue Science’s account executive for high performance. “We’re getting real-time insights into (athletes’) cognitive effectiveness and their fatigue scores daily and weekly.”

The focus on sleep isn’t brand new.

The Vancouver Canucks first connected with Fatigue Science in 2011, while coaches at Northwestern University first employed wearable sleep monitors on football players in 2013. Last winter, the Raptors were among several NBA teams to ditch the traditional morning shoot-around, opting instead to let players sleep in.

While players report feeling better, the evidence of the benefits of enhanced sleep runs deeper than anecdotes.

Zeilstra says Fatigue Science licenses software developed by the U.S. military and employs an algorithm that predicts the erosion of an athlete’s reaction time based on their sleep scores. According to the model, an athlete who scores 90 will react 25 per cent more quickly than one who scores 70.

In 2013, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine published the results of a three-year survey of major league baseball players that asked them to report their levels of sleepiness. Among players who reported fatigue in 2010, 39 per cent were still in the league in 2013 compared with 72 per cent of players who reported low levels of sleepiness.

Researchers at Stanford University found that three-point shooting accuracy increased by 9.2 per cent after basketball players were asked to up their sleep to 10 hours daily.

“Athletes are going to these crazy extents to make themselves better, with gas masks and all these different things,” says Adrian Lightowler, U of T’s head strength and conditioning coach. “The two we hit them with all the time: hydrate and sleep. That’s the two easiest things you can possibly do to make yourself significantly better.”

Lightowler points out that sleep helps athletes recover by boosting growth hormone while limiting cortisol, a stress-related hormone that suppresses immunity and breaks down muscle tissue. But he acknowledges scheduling sleep is a tougher task for university athletes, who balance practice with classes and tests.

Volleyball standout Denise Wooding remembers her first year at U of T as a hard lesson in the importance of sleep.

“Once you don’t get a good sleep you can’t focus on class and you have to go through everything twice just to make up for what you missed,” says Wooding, who just finished her fifth year of eligibility. “You feel bad at practice and you’re not recovering, so you’re always sore. Then you feel like you need more sleep but you don’t have time.”

Zeilstra says the goal isn’t just getting athletes to sleep better, but to use sleep data as part of an integrated approach to boosting performance and avoiding injury. A soccer team, for example, can pair sleep stats with data gleaned from wearable GPS units to determine which athletes are fresh and who can use a recovery day.

He also says clients commonly consult with his company on travel schedules, adjusting flight times to optimize sleep. Soon, athletes will be able to access sleep stats on a mobile app and receive updates to help them schedule rest.

“We’re going to start to get really granular on this as it pertains to an athlete’s competition,” he says. “Sleep is the foundation for health and performance, and we’re trying to get these athletes two or three per cent better.”


By: Morgan Campbell Staff Reporter, Published on Sun Mar 27 2016


Do you have sleep apnea? UW smartphone app can tell.

“It’s similar to the way bats navigate,” scientist says.

Smartphones already have the ability to monitor human health. Apps these days can track the amount of calories burned throughout the day, determine a user’s heart rate and follow one’s sleeping patterns.iphone6-inline

Now, a new app in the development stage at the University of Washington can wirelessly detect sleep apnea episodes, potentially saving those who suffer from the sleep disorder thousands of dollars.

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that is commonly caused by blockage of the airway (obstructive sleep apnea) or the brain failing to signal muscles to breath during sleep (central sleep apnea). Obstructive sleep apnea, which is much more common, affects roughly 25 million Americans.

How the app works:

There are home sleep apnea tests that function similarly, but the new app, named ApneaApp, uses sonar technology to track breathing patterns without a person having to sleep amidst a tangle of wires and sensors.

ApneaApp sends inaudible sound waves from the phone’s speaker that bounce off people in their sleep to track miniscule changes in their breathing pattern. The returning sound waves are then picked up by the phone’s microphone.

“It’s similar to the way bats navigate,” said Rajalakshmi Nandakumar, lead author and a Ph.D. student in the UW’s department of computer science and engineering. “They send out sound signals that hit a target, and when those signals bounce back they know something is there.”

Since sound wave patterns can change due to distance, the app is able to distinguish between the breathing patterns of two different people sleeping side by side. It efficiently traces breathing patterns from distances up to three feet, so users can place their smartphones at their bedside tables, as they normally would. Regardless of one’s sleeping position, ApneaApp can track breathing patterns—even when the person is underneath a blanket.

The high frequency of the app’s emitted sound waves, which adults cannot hear, means that other audible sounds, such as talking, fans and street noise aren’t picked up by the microphone. And while children may hear ApneaApp’s high-pitched sound waves, researchers are developing a newer version with sound waves that will be inaudible to all humans.

Researchers believe the app could be available to smartphone users within the next two years.

Posted on May 4, 2015 | By Kyle Jensen

Disability discrimination: Kansas jury awards nearly $1 million to cop who slept on the job.

January 30, 2015

A federal jury in Wichita, KA awarded a former McPherson police officer nearly $1 million in damages after a recent trial. The case illustrates an important lesson for both public and private employers across the state.

A series of disciplinary actions:

Matthew Michaels was a police officer for the city of McPherson for 9 years. In 2007, the city placed him on a one-year evaluation because he had three on-duty at-fault car accidents. In 2010, he was suspended and placed on 6 months’ probation after he was repeatedly caught sleeping in his patrol car while he was on duty.

Shortly after those write-ups, he was diagnosed with and treated for obstructive sleep apnea, and he had no further incidents of falling asleep on the job.

In March 2012, Michaels asked for one day of leave to take his daughter to a doctor’s appointment in May. The request was denied because there was a mandatory departmental training scheduled for the same day. On the day of the training, Michaels complained during a break about having to be at the training. He was issued a written warning and suspended for two days for what the city described as “insubordination” and “conduct unbecoming of an officer.”

Michaels was also written up in May for wearing the incorrect dress uniform pants to a parade. He was suspended again in July 2012 for “insubordination” and “dereliction of duty” based on a disagreement with his superiors about the necessity of obtaining video evidence in a shoplifting investigation.

Following that incident, the chief of police recommended that the city commission terminate Michaels’ employment for “[being] argumentative with superiors, insubordination, conduct unbecoming an officer, sleeping on duty, numerous other circumstances and situations where he was no longer viable to be a police officer.” The city terminated his employment based on the chief’s representations and recommendation.

The chief then submitted a report to the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training, which is a statewide registry of information about police officers for agencies to use when reviewing employment applications. The report identified the same list of reasons—including sleeping on the job—for Michaels’ termination.

Michaels argued that his termination was discrimination based on his disability—sleep apnea—because the documentation recommending his termination specifically referred to his sleeping on the job, despite those issues having been resolved more than a year earlier.

He also argued that the city interfered with his right to take one day of family medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when it denied his request for the day off in May. Finally, he argued that he was entitled to payment for unused vacation days following his termination because he wasn’t terminated for “cause” as that term is described in the employee handbook.

The jury speaks:

The jury found in favor of Michaels on all of his claims and awarded him $921,657. Of that amount, it awarded $120,000 to compensate him for emotional pain and suffering, $91,445 for wages and benefits he lost before trial, and $709,220 for wages and benefits he would have received in the future had the illegal action not occurred. The jury also awarded him approximately $1,000 on his unpaid wages claim.

Following trial, Michaels requested a willfulness penalty and interest on his wage claim. He also requested that the city be required to pay his attorneys’ fees of nearly $310,000. The city has stated its intent to appeal the decision, but it hasn’t done so yet.

So why did the jury find that Michaels was terminated because of his disability? It appears the jury agreed with his argument that the city considered his disability in its decision to terminate him because his supervisor listed the sleeping-on-the-job incidents as one of the reasons for his termination despite no similar incidents occurring after he was diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea in 2010.

Lessons learned:

Employers often want to be thorough in listing all the disciplinary issues that led to an employee’s termination. Generally speaking, that’s a good practice, but it’s important to think critically about each issue identified in personnel documents.

If any of those issues was caused or affected by a medical condition that may qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), give extra care when considering whether referring to it in your disciplinary paperwork might suggest to the employee (or a jury) that you had a discriminatory motive.

Michaels had no further incidents of sleeping on the job once he received his diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea in 2010. There was no reason to include a 2-year-old fully resolved issue in his termination paperwork. It appears the city had good reasons to fire him. But its reference to his sleeping on the job gave the jury a basis for believing the city was terminating him for an illegal reason, and that resulted in a significant verdict in the employee’s favor.


Tara Eberline, an editor of Kansas Employment Law Letter, can be contacted at [email protected]

Neck-to-waist ratio can help predict pediatric obstructive sleep apnea.

Research from Canada demonstrated that a neck-to-waist ratio of >0.41 has sufficient sensitivity and specificity to be considered a predictor of obstructive sleep apnea.

Adults are not the only ones who develop sleep apnea. The condition occurs frequently in children as well. The statistics are quite staggering — up to 66% of obese children are diagnosed with apnea compared with 5.7% of non-obese children. This is another reason to keep children active and help them make better food choices.

Just as with adults, the consequences of sleep apnea can lead to other health issues. In children, learning and behavioral problems can be the first symptoms that suggest there is something happening in their sleep.

In adults, obstructive sleep apnea is the collapse of the pharyngeal tissue which causes obstruction of breathing during sleep. Children often develop sleep apnea because of large tonsils and adenoids. When a child is not sleeping well, ask his or her parents about snoring or if they can hear their child breathing from across the room. These are indications that tonsils and adenoids are hypertrophic.

As a provider, keep a measuring tape in your drawer can be helpful in determining whether your pediatric patient has obstructive sleep apnea. Research from Canada suggests that a neck-to-waist ratio of >0.41 has sufficient sensitivity and specificity to be considered a predictor of obstructive sleep apnea. The neck circumference is measured at the most prominent part of the thyroid cartilage and the waist circumference equidistant between the iliac crest and the lowest rib.

Of course, if you believe a child has obstructive sleep apnea it is important to order a polysomnogram to confirm the diagnosis. As it is often a concern, assure your patient that sleep labs have rooms set up for parents to stay with their child. Treatment may be as simple as removal of tonsils and adenoids, however, some children may need continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

Children are not able to always put into words what they are feeling physically. As adults, we can say we are tired or fatigued, while children might not be able to do so. Ask parents how the child is interacting with other children or siblings. Are they falling asleep if not active? How are they doing in school? How is their behavior at home?

On your pediatric patient’s next visit, remember to measure their neck and waist to see if they might need to a sleep study to assess for obstructive sleep apnea.

Sharon M. O’Brien, MPAS, PA-C, is a practicing clinician with an interest is helping patients understand the importance of sleep hygiene and the impact of sleep on health.

NTSB adopts sleep-apnea proposals following Metro-North accidents.

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal regulators, reacting to a deadly derailment that they blame on an engineer’s sleepiness, are recommending better training for the nation’s doctors in identifying and treating sleep disorders.

Another recommendation adopted Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board urges railroads to routinely screen “safety-sensitive” employees for sleep disorders.

The board also called for a model national labor agreement that supports such screening.

In all, the NTSB adopted 19 conclusions and 17 recommendations stemming from five Metro-North accidents in New York and Connecticut.

The board concluded last month that a Dec. 1 derailment that killed four people in the Bronx happened when the engineer fell asleep at the controls. It said his fatigue was caused by obstructive sleep apnea, which he did not know he had.

By JIM FITZGERALD | ASSOCIATED PRESS | Nov 19, 2014 11:39 AM CST in Money, Health, Politics

Sleep apnea probable cause of last year’s deadly Metro-North train disaster.

Metro North Railroad engineer William Rockefeller is wheeled away from the area where the train he was operating derailed in the Bronx. The National Transportation Safety Board said the sleep-deprived engineer nodded off at the controls of the commuter train just before taking a 30 mph curve at 82 mph. (AP Photo/Robert Stolarik)


Metro North Railroad engineer William Rockefeller is wheeled away from the area where the train he was operating derailed in the Bronx. The National Transportation Safety Board said the sleep-deprived engineer nodded off at the controls of the commuter train just before taking a 30 mph curve at 82 mph. (AP Photo/Robert Stolarik)

The Metro-North Railroad engineer who fell asleep at the controls while operating a train that derailed and killed four passengers last December was suffering from an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released reports today citing sleep apnea as the probable cause in last year’s derailment, and identified the probable causes of four other major Metro-North accidents over the last two years, says The Wall Street Journal.

According to the reports, the railroad is guilty of a series of failures, including its lack of a comprehensive track maintenance program and less-stringent inspection requirements for high-density railroads.

In response to Metro-North’s recent issues, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has installed a new management team and is shifting its focus to safety and beefing up its training and staffing procedures, says The Wall Street Journal. Metro-North is also working on a system wide effort to rebuild its tracks and ramp up inspections.


Source: Property Casualty 360

Public Presentation – Cloverdale BC – Pharmasave & Dr. Halstrom

Sept 24th, 2014 Public Presentation – Cloverdale BC

In partnership with Cloverdale Pharmasave, Dr. Halstrom will be holding a public presentation on the evening of September 24 starting at  7PM at the Holiday Inn in Cloverdale, BC. Snoring is often the first and most obvious sign that someone is suffering from sleep apnea. We will discuss diagnosis and current treatment options including Oral Appliance Therapy, CPAP, and Surgery. From simple and inexpensive over the counter snoring solutions, through to professional level treatment for sleep apnea.  Please call 604-576-6830 to reserve your spot – reserved attendees will be entered into a draw for a $25 Gift Certificate to the Original Joe’s Restaurant.

Introducing The Summer of Sleep

The SnoreMobile has provided community education related to Sleep Apnea & Snoring for several years.

Halstrom TRU Mobile Clinic 2011

The “Summer of Sleep” was a program run in cooperation with the Thompson Rivers University over several summers. Activities included participation at Special Events and Public Outreach opportunities within British Columbia.

Several “Sleep Apnea In The Workplace” programs have also been run within the British Columbia Forestry industry.

The initiative is supported by Dr. Halstrom Sleep Apnea & Snoring Clinics and the Vancouver Institute of Sleep Medicine.

Sleep Apnea Info:

“According to the Canadian Lung Association sleep apnea is actually quite common, yet most people have not been diagnosed. However this reality is changing fast with the emergence of simple and effective diagnosis / treatment and increasing public awareness.

Early treatment intervention is seen as a way to minimize collateral damage from the problems associated with sleep apnea, such as:

  • high blood pressure;
  • heart attack;
  • stroke; and
  • diabetes.

Snoring is the first and most obvious sign of sleep apnea!

The Summer of Sleep program is dedicated to bringing awareness and treatment, to this under diagnosed and very serious health condition.

Workforce Initiative:

The mission of this program is to improve employee health, performance, and quality of life by the identification and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

We will accomplish this through the achievement of the following goals and objectives:

  • To Educate – through a coordinated awareness program;
  • To Identify – through screening;
  • To Diagnose – through primary care medicine & sleep specialist;
  • To Treat – those patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea; and
  • To Report – data and results of the summer program.