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04-13-2013, 08:08 PM
LadyStanley's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
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In response to reports of widespread use, the NHL and the NHL Players' Association are working together to study the use of Ambien by players in the league. The results of the study are expected later this spring, when the league is expected to issue its findings and make recommendations about use of the prescription sleep medication.
Sleep problems are a serious issue for professional athletes, whose intense training, rigorous schedules, and frequent travel across time zones put them at high risk for disrupted and insufficient sleep. Pro athletes crisscrossing the country, often flying overnight before waking up to an early-morning practice or next-day game, share risks for sleep problems with other high-frequency travelers and people who work non-traditional schedules. People in these jobs -- from law enforcement to doctors and nurses to airline personnel and air-traffic controllers -- are at higher risk for sleep disorders such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. They also can be at elevated risk for health problems associated with poor sleep, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

In addition to studying the use of Ambien, the NHL has also taken other steps to address sleep issues among its players. In its most recent agreement with the NHL Players' Association, the NHL made changes to league policies that are intended to provide players with better rest during the season. The new rules include a minimum of four days off per month during the season, and a minimum nine-hour break between flight touchdown and the beginning of the next practice when players are on the road. While these changes may seem modest, they do appear to reflect a growing awareness of the need to protect athletes' ability to sleep. It is my hope that they also reflect an understanding that sleep medication is not the first -- nor always the best -- recourse for improving sleep.

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