Sleep and Performance
How Much Sleep Do Athletes Need?
Many would say as much as possible! However, we don’t all have that luxury. An ongoing study suggests that athletes who get an extra amount of sleep are more likely to have better performance, mood, and alertness.
It is recommended that athletes make sleep a part of the training program, aiming for 8+ hours most of the time. Also, athletes should extend nightly sleep for several weeks before competition to reduce sleep debt.
7 Tips to Improve the Quality of Sleep:
- Have a regular wake-up and bedtime each day. Your internal body clock adjusts to set itself around this regular patterning. The body loves consistency, so it’s best to follow this pattern through weekends too, so as to reduce disruption to your body clock.
- Avoid coffee or other caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and other stimulants prior to heading to bed. Reduce stimulant intake for at least 5 hours before going to bed.
- Avoid high intensity exercise and large meals after for 2 1/2 hours before going to bed.
- Spend “quiet time” before bed. Limit your exposure to loud music, bright lights, computers, and school or work related stress just before bed. The aim here is to reduce stressors and stimulators to allow the mind time to wind down. Just as we do with small children, you might want to create a bedtime ritual to put your mind in a state of sleepiness.
- Your sleep environment is important so aim for a quiet, dark bedroom with a cool temperature. Get the best quality linen, mattress, and pillow possible. Consider taking your own linen and pillow when traveling.
- Some say that if you are not asleep in 30 minutes then get out of bed, read, or undertake another quiet activity then return to bed when you are drowsy. Try that and see if it works; otherwise, just lie there quietly and relax – you can’t force sleep but if you’re relaxed and peaceful you’ll rest nicely and likely fall asleep.
- Do not nap within 1-3 hours of bedtime. If you do nap during the day aim for 20-40 minutes around lunchtime.