HEALTHY LIVING

Knicks Report Trouble Sleeping: How Adrenaline Can Keep You Up At Night

03/03/2012 05:17 pm ET | Updated Mar 05, 2012

New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin may no longer be sleeping on a couch, but his teammates are having trouble sleeping altogether.

"It's hard to sleep at night, to be honest," Knicks small forward Steve Novak said in a March 1 radio interview with host Mike Francesa. "We have a lot of guys who have trouble sleeping at night."

Looks like "Linsanity" has turned into a good old-fashioned case of "Linsomnia."

"We actually had a meeting today before practice with a doctor to talk about ways to help you sleep at night," Novak continued. "I'm serious. It's like the energy when we leave -- it's like it's midnight, and you go home and we can't sleep."

Knicks guard J.R. Smith echoed the sentiment during an interview with ESPN New York 1050's "The Michael Kay Show," telling the hosts, "After the games, it's kind of hard for me to sleep anyway. The adrenaline still pumps."

Novak also blamed the game-time adrenaline rush for the team's sleepless nights -- and that shouldn't come as a surprise, according to Jerrold Kram, M.D., medical director of the California Center for Sleep Disorders and a member of the board of directors for the National Sleep Foundation.

"It's probably much more common than people realize," Kram, a native New Yorker and Knicks fan, told The Huffington Post. Kram was speaking in general terms and has not specifically evaluated the Knicks.

Insomnia, he explained, is associated with a state of hyper-arousal, which includes increases in sympathetic nervous system activity, which, in turn, is linked to adrenaline release. "So it's physiological, not just psychological," Kram said, comparing it to the sleeplessness that people experience in anticipation of an upcoming vacation. "Everybody is just really stoked about what's going on."

Novak told Francesa that the doctor who visited the team handed out relaxation CDs to help ease the insomnia. The idea, Kram said, is to spend time after the game unwinding instead of trying to force yourself to sleep, which will only make things worse.

Kram suggested that the players struggling to sleep should skip video games or other stimulating activities in favor of listening to their CDs or even trying progressive muscle relaxation, a very old technique in which the individual concentrates on releasing muscle tension from head to toe.

"Sleep will take over if you just give it a chance," he said, adding that when dealing with insomnia, it's best also to avoid bright lights late at night (that includes computer screens) and observe a regular waking time to help your circadian rhythms, or internal body clock, sync back to normal. If the problems continue beyond a week or so, he suggested speaking to a doctor.

While Novak told Francesa that he's not too concerned -- "We'll trade the sleep for now," he said. "We'll sleep later." -- lack of sleep may actually affect athletic performance, not to mention a host of other health problems associated with too little rest.

"Their need for sleep is just as much as anybody's," Kram said. "If they think they can cut it short, I think they're probably misleading themselves."

In fact, a small study from Stanford University, published last year in the journal Sleep, found that college basketball players who extended their sleep time ultimately performed better.

"For an athlete to reach optimal performance, an accurate knowledge of one's nightly sleep requirement and obtaining this amount should be considered integral factors in an athlete's daily training regimen," the study authors wrote. "It is clear that increasing the application of sleep knowledge within individual athletes and athletic programs can be a valuable and likely performance enhancing strategy in all sports at all levels."

For 10 ways we manage sleeplessness that make it worse, check out this slideshow from HuffPost blogger Rubin Naiman:

10 Ways We Manage Sleeplessness That Backfire
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