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Can Whiteside become dominant copying habits from Roger Federer, Usain Bolt and LeBron?

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A consistent effort on both sides of the floor from Whiteside could make the Heat legitimate threats in the East.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Hassan Whiteside recently said, “I don’t sleep that much anyway...” Could his disappearing act in some games be a case of sleep deprivation? Or simply not knowing what wins championships.

Michael Jordan championship quote.
Talent alone is not enough to become a champion.

Whiteside has the raw talent, but harnessing it intelligently has been his major roadblock. Treating his body as a temple, which deserves rest and tender loving care, is his first step.

An infographic shows top athletes such as 18-time tennis Grand Slam Winner Roger Federer, 100-dash record-holder Usain Bolt and LeBron James get an average of 10-12 hours of sleep per day.

Quotes by world-class athletes on the importance of sleep:

  • “Eat, sleep, and swim, that’s all I can do.” Michael Phelps
  • “I think sleep is just as important as [diet and exercise].” Grant Hill
  • “Sleep is half my training.” Jarrod Shoemaker
  • “Sleep is extremely important to me - I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body.” Usain Bolt
  • “For me sleeping well could be the difference between putting up 30 points or living with 15.” Steve Nash

The NBA schedule allows little time for players to give their bodies time to recover from the grueling physicality of games, especially as the season wears on and their bodies break down.

Tennis pros and track stars can be in one place for a few days, but the NBA road trips allow little time for sleep to work its magic.

A NCAA study showed a real link between rest and performance.

“In a study done by (Stanford University) on NCAA basketball players, baseline scores of sprint times, 3 point and free throw percentage, mood states and physical and mental well being were taken over a period where players slept their normal amounts.

“The players were then retested over a period of ‘extended sleep’ where they were encouraged to sleep at least 10 hours per night and slept until they awoke on their own each morning.

“Improvements in shooting percentage, sprint times, reaction time, mood, fatigue and vigor were all observed.

“Shooting percentage improved about 9% (free throw: 9%, 3-point: 9.2%).

“To put this in perspective, that is the difference between being the best free throw shooter in the NBA this season to being the 52nd best free throw shooter in the NBA.”

Of course, sleep alone won’t turn Whiteside into a Stephen Curry, but sleep deprivation could be hurting his performance in some games. Hassan has a tendency to be maddeningly inconsistent: great in one game and a non-factor in other ones. The reason may stem from what he does off the court.

An article in Mercola concludes,

“Part of the problem is our propensity for using artificial lighting and electronics at night, in combination with getting insufficient exposure to full, bright, and natural sunlight during the day.”

“As shown in the video above, going just one night without proper sleep starts to impair your physical movements and mental focus, comparable to having a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent. In essence, if you haven't slept, your level of impairment is on par with someone who's drunk.”

“Other research has linked lack of sleep to more extended internet usage, such as browsing through Facebook rather than studying or working. The reason for this is again related to impaired cognition and the inability to focus, making you more prone to distraction. [italics added]”

The second step is realizing social media, or what people think of him, impairs his judgment and dedication to keep his body and mind free from the distracting clutter that constantly surrounds him. As Rodney McGruder says,

“Twitter is nothing but trouble. My sophomore year, we banned Twitter, because of things that were said on there. People want to speak their mind on Twitter. I would rather just tell someone face to face or talk it out with my friends than put it out there on some website.”

Hassan Whiteside has the physical tools to give the Miami Heat a credible chance to make the playoffs, which were a distant dream two weeks ago. Now if he could give his body some much-needed sleep during the home stand, and later on at the All-Star break, perhaps he could be the difference maker for the team.

(Sleep and Sports Performance infographic courtesy of Athletic Lab)

(Athlete sleep hours infographic courtesy of Ffunction)