4 Tips for Getting Better Sleep to Improve Athletic Performance
Ask any health and fitness professional in any sport and they’ll tell you how important a good night’s rest is. In terms of performance, sleeping is right up there with keeping your diet and physical conditioning in check. For all of us, sleep is an important part of maintaining good health. However, for elite athletes such as yourselves, sleep becomes a crucial pillar of success.
Your body utilises your time in slumber to focus on recovering from a hard day of training. Sleep plays a part in muscle recovery, motivation, focus as well as key motor functions. The list could go on. In the same way you warm-up for a workout you should also be preparing yourself for bed. It’s a process that starts well before actually getting into your bed.
We’ve all been there. It’s 1:00am and you’ve been staring at the ceiling wondering why you can’t fall asleep. You wake up after what feels like only 2 hours of rest thinking how on earth you’re going to get through the day. That’s where this list comes in. Here are our top 4 tips to getting the deepest, most satisfying sleep you’ve had since you were a baby.
Turn Off Your Phone (Avoid Blue Light)
Too much time on your phone can be detrimental to your mental health before we even take into count the issues that surround looking at it before bed. In this age, we’re exposing our eyes to more blue light than ever. It’s everywhere. Sunlight, Phones, Computers, the TV etc.
In fact, about one-third of the light that you see can be considered blue light. The blue light that is given out by your digital devices is a man-made source of what the sun typically produces. This can have an extremely bad effect on your Circadian Rhythm. You can think of the Circadian Rhythm as an internal clock. To put it simply, it tells your brain whether its time feel sleepy or alert. There are a few factors which have an impact on this but the main one is light. During the daytime, when your eyes are exposed to the sun’s rays, your brain is telling itself you need to stay awake. When it’s dark outside it’s told the opposite.
If your phone is producing light similar to the light coming from the sun, when you’re about to go to bed, then that’s going to inhibit your ability to sleep. If you do need to look at your phone later in the evening, use the night shift function and make the colours as warm as possible. It won’t completely eliminate the issue but it will definitely help.
No Caffeine After 3pm
Caffeine is present in Coffee, Tea and most hot beverages. It raises your alertness, brain activity, adrenaline production and increases your heart rate. It can be very beneficial for getting you through work or a hard training session however it won’t help when you’re trying to get some shut-eye. Caffeine has a half life of around 6 hours. Without getting too heavily into the science, you can feel it’s affects for up to 6 hours after consuming it.
However - depending on the dosage you took beforehand - it can last longer. So just to be on the safe side, try to avoid drinking or eating anything that contains a high dose of caffeine after 3pm.
Go to Bed at The Same Time Every Night
Going to bed at a consistent time every night is another factor that can have a positive effect on your Circadian Rhythm. Getting into the habit of going to bed at the same time will automatically gear your body to produce hormones to promote sleep and make you drowsy. It will also have a positive impact on your ability to get up in the morning - waking you up naturally and preventing you from feeling groggy.
Zinc & Magnesium
When you’ve done all of the above you can begin to think about getting a good quality Zinc & Magnesium complex, such as ZM RXD from Kratos Nutrition. This blend is proven to improve your quality of sleep, help muscle recovery and support hormone production, allowing you to build lean muscle. On top of that it also includes L-Theanine which helps reduce anxiety and stress if you find yourself overthinking before you go to bed. Just keep in mind, these aren’t sleeping pills so you’ll need to do the ground work in order to feel the benefit.