Whilst some can go with less sleep than others, everyone still needs some sleep. More specifically, athletes will always tell you how important rest and recovery is for your body, which is where sleep comes in as well. In fact, numerous studies have shown that even a small amount of sleep deprivation can dramatically decrease athletic performance. The reasons for this are not entirely clear; however, research points to the role of glucose metabolism and cortisol (a stress hormone) production as a major factor.
If you’re an athlete and are struggling to prioritise good sleep habits, or have realised you need to make a change in your sleep routine, read our tips for sleeping well as an athlete.
Short breathing exercises before bed can calm your heart rate, blood pressure, stress levels, and more. It can also help you fall asleep more quickly. Typically, you should inhale for 6 counts and hold that breath for 3 counts and then exhale for 6 counts again. This should be repeated 4 or 5 times before bed. Try visualising a scene that you find calming as well.
Try keeping your phone out of the bedroom when you head to bed. Screen light before you sleep keeps your brain active even if you aren’t. It also tricks your brain into thinking it’s not night time, stopping the production of melatonin which helps you sleep.
Yoga before bed relaxes you and keeps you strong without too much activity. The stretching involved is also incredibly good for your muscles and helps prevent stiffness.
Morning workouts may help you sleep better. Exercise in the evening may keep you too active or energised before bed, and on off days, make sure you keep walking or stretching to keep your muscles and body active.