Getting into bed at night, only to toss and turn for hours before finally falling asleep, is nothing but an ordeal arising from lack of quality sleep.
Sleep deprivation has many significant effects on humans, like it restricts cognitive function, increases daytime tiredness, influences mood, and impairs memory and learning tasks.
A human body needs a minimum of 8 hours of sleep to feel refreshed and energetic in the morning. An athlete requires 9 -12 hours of sleep.
This sleep-time will allow an athlete to regain strength from the previous day’s training sessions. It had been said that rest and recovery are very important for success. An athlete’s training programs and schedules are made so that they have rest days build into them.
Now how can you make the most of your nightly sleep routine?
Let’s discuss the recommended sleep tips for athletes that are tried and tested by experts.
Sleeping Tips for Athletes
Here are easy doable sleeping tips or the athletes or these who are aspiring to be. These tips if followed carefully will energies you.
Even if you are not an athlete, but you exercise, yo can follow these is.
Appropriate conditions for sleep
Using shades, light-tight blinds, and window coverings help set the right sleep settings. Bright light can be a distraction, and a glowing clock or electronics can also interfere with a solid night’s sleep.
Dimming lights a few hours earlier relaxes eyes and helps in getting sleep faster. Again keeping your room cool (to 65 to 68 degrees) can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Keep your bed only for sleep. There should be no reading or talking. Treat your bed as a haven.
Using earplugs can be a total game-changer. You can sleep faster and sleep soundly if you are wearing earplugs. A noisy environment can interrupt sleep or reduce the quality of sleep. Sleeping in locations where there are many external sounds like traffic, airports, trains, or noisy neighbors, then invest in some earplugs to create silence.
Some visualization or relaxation Exercises like a short breathing exercise before sleep can help you tranquil your heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, and more. Here is a simple procedure you can follow when you get into bed.
- First Inhale through nose till the count of six
- Then Hold the inhalation until three counts.
- Exhale -for a count of six
- Hold the exhale for the count of three.
- Repeat these steps four more times
Time your all-day workouts
You should reschedule your late-night workout time. Performing your exercises in the morning will help you sleep better at night. And even on your rest days, getting outdoors for an easy walk or doing some yoga or stretching can help you fall asleep faster at night.
While there isn’t necessarily one best time to exercise, experts recommend a minimum gap of 6 hrs between your exercise session and your bedtime. The idea of getting in a good sweat before bedtime, but anything after 7 PM is not recommended.
Detach/unplug yourself from all devices
Try to avoid all kinds of technology and blue light exposure before getting into the bed. (Be it watching TV, listening to loud music, using smartphones and social media interactions, laptops, etc.) It will help your mind relax.
These devices emit blue lights, which confuses the body/brain to think its daytime, thereby lowering sleep hormone production. So it a good idea to turn off all gadgets about an hour before bed.
Try to resolve your stress before sleeping in your bed. If you are worried, then getting into bed with that burden will lead to sleep deprivation.
Using Essential oils
Grab some essential oils like lavender, etc., on your pillow or as an air diffuser to relax and ease your tension. It will definitely help you sleep faster and feel refreshed in the mornings.
Invest in good Bedding
The bedding equipment’ used in the room plays a vital role in getting good sleep. Supportive and comfortable mattress and should be replaced from time to time. Having a good pillow position makes a lot of difference.
Use a pillow according to your sleeping posture like for stomach sleepers, you need a flatter pillow against those who are side or back sleepers who should opt for a firmer pillow.
Get ample sunshine and air
Natural sunshine is not easy to get, but spending time outdoors can help your body recognize its daytime. Being outdoors in daylight is one helpful way to regulate your natural body clock, known as circadian rhythm and daily sleep patterns.
Athletes should get 30 mins to 2 hrs of natural sunlight. One can get-up early for morning sunlight and turn off the light before sleep time. The best way is to get your training sessions outside during the daytime.
Say No to Alcohol and limit your caffeine
Uneven sleep cycles, shallow sleep, frequent waking, or delayed sleep onset are basic alcohol outcomes, which are linked with a decrease in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
Eventually, you may find yourself irritable and exhausted the next day. Studies have found out if you drink highly caffeinated drinks in the evening will impair sleep as it raises the levels of hormones called catecholamine.
These hormones act as stimulants, which is good before any training session or event but not before bedtime. Limiting caffeine consumption can improve not only your quality of sleep but also help you fall asleep faster.
Train yourself for a night of good sleep
Stick to a schedule, i.e., you should have specific bedtime and wake-up routine. Be consistent with them. Choose an activity like reading or playing a mind game just 30 mins before sleep. Once your brain gets paired with such a routine, such activity will make you fall asleep.
Try to train your body to identify the cues of sleep time to sleep deeper and faster.
An athlete can counter poor sleep hygiene through napping. Napping is extremely helpful for sports professionals who are indulging in constant early morning workouts sessions.
A 30 mins short nap in between improves performance compared to a performance backed by no bap. But it is important to note that, napping should be completely avoided close to bedtime.
What happens if an athlete faces sleep deprivation?
Some studies show that any amount of sleep deprivation can have drastic adverse effects on an athlete’s performance.
Lack of sleep produces a stress hormone called cortisol in the body due to lack of sleep. Even glucose metabolism gets affected, linked to memory impairment, age-related insulin resistance, and impaired recovery.
Another possible danger of poor sleep is the hormone leptin’s low levels, which regulates hunger and body fat. Moreover, sleep deprivation leads to lowering physical performance, restricting strength and cardiovascular function.
In extension to the above, its effects harm psychomotor readings such as reaction time, decision making, and skills that require accuracy and accuracy.
How can you diagnose that you are sleep deprived?
It’s very easy to check if you are sleep-deprived. If one falls asleep within 15-20 minutes of crawling into the bed and getting up without an alarm, one is probably getting the right amount of sleep.
But instead, if you sleep as soon as you hit the bed and can’t wake up without an alarm, then, in that case, you are having symptoms of sleep deprivation.
How will quality sleep improve an athlete's performance?
A night of good quality sleep can help an athlete in many ways.
- Sufficient sleep improves your judgment. You will make fewer mistakes.
- The rate of injuries gets lower in an athlete who had better night sleeps.
- It betters the reaction time of any sportsman.
- Better health in general.
Thus a good sleep helps in the overall performance of an athlete.
How to counter Jet lag in Athletes?
Athletes have to travel to different destinations, and it’s natural to adjust the body clock accordingly.
But one can take the following tips to adjust themselves and avoid fatigue.
- Get enough sleep before traveling.
- Adjust the clock as per your destination time zone as well as your sleep.
- Stay hydrated and eat your meal as per your destination schedule.
The amount of sleep an athlete gets seems to have a large influence on his/her sports performance. It helps improve physical performance, mood, and attention for athletes by producing more growth hormones.
These hormones stimulate bone building and fat-burning ability of the body. It helps in muscle growth and repair.
Extra and adequate sleep is particularly important for professional athletes who have enormous schedules and are often traveling for games and sporting events.
Due to such tight schedules and international commitments, most Athletes can easily fail to get regular and consistent hours of sleep.
Sleep debt, commonly known as lack of sleep, harms the functionality of a sportsman.
Lastly, sleep is important to both athletes and non-athletes for their overall well-being. It allows your heart to rest and helps you to recover from prevailing illness.