Something Easy to Improve Your Shooting

We live very close to Virginia. So close that our daily newspaper is “The Virginia Pilot.” In today’s edition there was an article, which got me well “fired-up.”

Sleep medicine has been a huge part of my life. So, whenever I see an article in print about sleep it catches my eye. Flipping through paper, this morning, there was ‘Advice’ published by Dear Abby related to a matter of sleep.

The sad writer wrote to describe an issue related to sleep and detailed the sleeping behavior of each family member. Dear Abby responded in 83 words. Dear Abby missed potential serious sleep problems.1 Well, Dear Abby isn’t a sleep expert and all I can do is forget it, move on, and give you some free advice about sleep that will improve your shooting.

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Who better to provide expert opinions on anything?

Let’s image for a moment that your form is flawless, bow tuned, arrows perfectly balanced, you’ve been shooting and winning a lot of local and regional events. You’ve even got your Jedi mind game going to ensure every shot hits the mark. However, you feel that you’re simply not living up to your potential or that occasionally the ‘Force’ isn’t with you.

Even if you think you are performing your best what I’m going to tell you will improve your shooting. Not only that, it could improve your health. It is simple and like Coach Bela Karolyi said to Kerri Strug during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, “You Can Do It!”

What is this simple activity? We all do it, but most people don’t do it enough – Get some sleep!

The majority of us sleeps 6.8 hours per night. 2 The average person, ages 26 – 64 needs 7 – 9 hours of sleep.3 Chances are you need to more sleep. Odds are you’re slightly sleep deprived – maybe even a lot. There is a wealth of information describing the negative impact of sleep deprivation on the Internet. If you are interested do a search, you’ll have enough information to get you on a path to better sleep hygiene or medical evaluation for a possible sleep disorder. But, little is available regarding the matter of getting more sleep – how does that improve performance?

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Several years ago my path crossed with Dr. Cheri Mah of Stanford. We were both interested in post-operative pain management and the use of opiates. At that time, I later learned, she,  Bill Dement, MD, and others had studied basketball player and sleep.4, 5 Dr. Dement and I had once prepared a research study to look at sleep deprivation and performance in cyclists during the Race Across America – we didn’t get funded. Soon afterwards, a similar study was funded. (You win some and you lose some.) So, I am always interested in what he’s doing in sleep research.

What Mah and her team’s study revealed is that college basketball players gained a 9% increase on free throws and a 9.2% increase on 3-point shots simply by getting more sleep. Those are huge increases in performance. 4 Can this analysis be carried over to archery – absolutely. Sleep is a key element of archery performance.6

You might not be able to increase your sleep time by 110 minutes, the mean increase in the study, but you can try. Most of us can’t get up later, so go to bed earlier. Really, there’s nothing worth watching on televisions and Facebook isn’t a job. By increasing your sleep you will find improvement in your performance.

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According to sleep scientist Cheri Mah, many pro athletes get more sleep than the average person. Credit: Zeo(ref, 4,7)

By the way, never watch television in bed. When I interviewed patients with sleep problems I always asked if they went to bed and turned the TV on. It was alarming how many said they did. The bed is good for two things and sleep is one of them. Practice good sleep and see if it doesn’t help your shooting.

References:

  • 1 Dear Abby, The Virginia Pilot, Oct. 20, 2015
  • http://www.gallup.com/poll/166553/less-recommended-amount-sleep.aspx
  • 3 https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need
  • 4 Mah CD; Mah KE; Kezirian EJ; Dement WC. The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. SLEEP 2011;34(7):943-950
  • 5 M: Faster, Higher, Stronger. The New Science of Creating Superathletes, and How You Can Train Like Them. Chapter 9, Hit the Snooze Button. Pp 164 – 172. Plume, NY, NY 2014.
  • 6 http://www.esdf.org/discover-archery/from-the-basics-to-the-podium/high-performance-tournaments/
  • 7 http://www.technologyreview.com/view/424608/extra-sleep-boosts-basketball-players-prowess/

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