How Much Sleep Does A Baseball Pitcher Need?
I believe one of the more overlooked problems with young baseball pitchers is failing to prepare by getting an adequate amount of sleep. Many experts are now saying young people under 12 should be getting 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night to fully meet their needs, while adolescents should be getting 8.5 to 9.5 hours each night. And, contrary to popular belief, they can't make up for this in one or two 12-hour "crash sessions" on weekends.
Failing to get enough rest can cause some pretty significant challenges for the mind and body, and asking a young baseball pitcher to compete at his best while deprived of sleep might be more than what is realistic. Compound the problem with high pitch count totals and a poor diet, the baseball pitcher realistically competes more with his physiological challenges than the opposing team.
Consider the following:
* From 10 PM to 12 AM the body goes through physical repair (obviously important for purposes of recovery).
* From 2 AM to 6 AM the body goes through mental and emotional repair (explaining why the late-night Guitar Hero sleep-over might not help a pitcher remember to back up 1st base on a right-side ground ball).
* Insulin levels can rise with less sleep.
* Muscles are more likely to ache.
* Decreased concentration and mental awareness can settle in.
* The immune system can be adversely affected.
* Reaction time can be considerably slower.
It is also interesting to know that REM cycles occur in 90 minute intervals. Waking up in the middle of these cycles causes a person to wake up tired, so planning a full night's sleep around 90 minute segments is smart. Studies also show that any sort of stimulus in the room while sleeping, i.e. a light, a radio or TV, can prevent one from sleeping soundly. A dark and quiet cave seems to be best.
Becoming a complete pitcher requires more preparation than just working on skill. It requires careful planning and the right amount of sleep.