7 Tips On How to Sleep Like a Pro Athlete
Many of the world’s greatest athletes eat, sleep, breathe for their sport. But did you know that in addition to physical conditioning and conscious dieting, sleep plays a major role in athletic performance and competitive results? The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep in particular provides energy to both the brain and body. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release hormones.
Exercise depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Hydration and the right fuel are only one part of training and recovery. What athletes do in the moments during and immediately after competition also determines how quickly their bodies rebuild muscle and replenish nutrients. This helps maintain endurance, speed, and accuracy.
Some research suggests that sleep deprivation increases levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery post-game.
Whether you’re at the top of your game or in the game for the fun of it, getting the proper amount of sleep is necessary to face the word with your best food forward. Sleep will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating, and good health.
How to Sleep Like a Pro Athlete
Do you want an easy way to improve your game? Get a bit more sleep, and the results could surprise you.
To step up your CrossFit game, follow our six tips for better sleep.
1. Sleep at least seven hours a night. Elite athletes should get even more.
An adult needs at least seven hours of sleep per night to avoid the health risks of insufficient sleep, for elite athletes, we recommend eight to 10 hours plus every night. For the everyday person, you’ve got to hit at least seven hours of rest every night. There are individual differences in daily sleep needs, however, you usually need eight hours or nine hours plus to feel rested and alert throughout the day.
2. Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
Our bodies like regularity and will anticipate sleep with a regular sleep schedule. As a reminder, set a daily alarm on your phone to go off 30 minutes before you want to start your wind-down routine.
3. Implement a wind-down routine.
A 20 to 30 minute wind down helps you transition to sleep. Reading is great – a real book, not an iPad or phone that emits blue frequencies of light, which can negatively impact sleep. For athletes, I recommend stretching, meditation or yoga. Many individuals don’t have a routine and they’ll jump into bed and have a racing mind which leads to difficulty sleeping.
4. Evaluate your sleep environment.
Make your room like a cave. You want it to be really dark, quiet and cool as well as comfortable. For darkness, I recommend blackout curtains; some people prefer eye masks. For quiet, use earbuds or earplugs. For cool, set your temperature at a level where if you got out of bed you would want to put on a jumper.
5. Reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine.
Drinking alcohol or caffeine at night time can impact sleep. Alcohol fragments sleep, particularly in the early morning hours. Caffeine has a half-life of about six hours, so it’s best to cut out caffeine in the late afternoon and evening.
6. Take power naps.
Power naps are great. Keep naps short. We recommend 20- to 30-minute naps. If you take longer naps – 45 minutes or more – you can go into deeper stages of sleep, and when you wake up, you may experience sleep inertia, where you feel more sluggish and worn down. For athletes, I do recommend pre-game naps. Naps can give you a temporary improvement in alertness and performance for a few hours. Naps are not a replacement for consolidated and healthy sleep at night time. If you’re having difficulty with your sleep, you should eliminate naps.
7. Try CBD Oil before bedtime
CBD is a popular treatment for insomnia, and promotes refreshing REM sleep to reduced excessive daytime sleepiness. CBD oil is known to treat sleep disorders is slightly more complex than simply making you feel drowsy. It is particularly helpful for people whose sleep problems are due to anxiety.
How Better Sleep Improves Athletic Performance
A better night of sleep enhances an athlete’s performance in the following ways:
First of all, insufficient sleep impairs your judgment. Sleep fuels the body’s ability to concentrate, remember, and learn. So, when it’s running on fumes, the brain has much more difficulty organising and retaining new information.
Fewer Injuries and Better Health in General
Tired athletes are slower to react increasing the likelihood of injury. Additionally, insufficient sleep doesn’t allow the body time to repair from the stress of workouts and games. And, because exhaustion also affects the immune system, sleep-deprived athletes are more susceptible to illness.
Faster Reaction Times
Going 22 hours without sleep can impair reaction time more than four alcoholic drinks can. Every millisecond counts when you’re an athlete, and inadequate sleep can greatly impair reaction time. Research shows that even a relatively minor loss of sleep can affect reaction times on a level similar to that of being legally drunk. Just one all-nighter can decrease reaction times by a shocking 300%; in fact, going 22 hours without sleep can impair reaction time more than four alcoholic drinks can.
Better Overall Performance
Good sleep is essential if you want to maintain peak fitness, both physically and mentally. It improves accuracy, sprint times, and many other metrics of success in sports. Studies have shown these improvements across a variety of sports, including football, tennis, basketball, weightlifting, swimming and more.
Even just implementing one or two of these strategies will improve your sleep quality, help you feel more rested in the morning, and improve your performance throughout your day. So, whether you are an athlete or coach, don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. You’ll be surprised by how much a healthy sleeping pattern will better your decisions and performance.