A good night’s sleep is essential for health, well-being and allowing the body to function at its peak. Nobody knows this better than professional athletes as they often push their bodies to the limit. With enough sleep the body is able to repair the heart as well as blood vessels, which results in better physical health.
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You don’t have to be a pro-athlete to benefit from better sleep either. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, getting enough sleep is vital for being productive and making fewer mistakes.
The following tips are often used by professional athletes to ensure they get enough quality sleep and can make a difference in your life too.
1. Create An Optimal Sleeping Environment
Getting a good night’s sleep is very difficult without the proper environment, so it is important to ensure that your bedroom is set up for optimal conditions. Firstly, make sure that the light in the bedroom is low enough. This is extremely important as the hormone melatonin is only released by the body when subjected to low light conditions.
Instead of using harsh, bright lights in your bedroom, opt for lamps with softer light instead. Also, avoid staring at your phone, tablet or other electronic device with a screen that emits light when you are in bed, as this can also interfere with the release of melatonin.
Melatonin not only helps you to get a good night’s sleep, but it is also one of the most powerful anti-oxidants in your body. If your room has a lot of ambient light at night, invest in blackout curtains or eye masks to ensure darkness.
Equally important is the temperature of your bedroom. Most professional athletes ensure that the rooms in which they sleep are slightly cooler because it results in better sleep. The reason is that your brain lowers your body temperature in order to induce sleep when you go to bed.
Accomplishing this is much easier for your body in slightly cooler temperatures compared to warmer temperatures. The optimal temperature is in the 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit range. Don’t make the room too cold, however, as this can also interfere with your sleep.
As soon as your pillows become shapeless or lumpy, it is time for new ones. In general, pillows have a lifespan of about two years.
2. Eradicate Noise
While you might not realize it, the brain still registers sound even when you are sleeping. Pro-athletes know that they can be woken up by sounds during the night, which even if they don’t remember it in the morning, can still take a toll on their quality of sleep.
This is why many of them make use of white noise to ensure a consistent and soothing sound throughout the night. This ambient sound serves to mask any loud noises from external sources during the night. Anything from a humidifier or dedicated white noise machine to a simple fan will do the trick.
3. Make Sure Your Bed Is Comfortable
No professional athlete is going to put up with an uncomfortable bed, as they know it will interfere with their sleep and performance. For the best rest, choose a mattress that is not only comfortable, but also supportive.
Motion from your partner can also disrupt your sleep, but this can be avoided by using a mattress that reduces motion transfer. Your pillows are just as important as the mattress, so choose ones that are able to support both your neck and head and keep them in a neutral position.
4. Be Careful About What You Drink Before Bed
Professional athletes know that what they drink can have an impact on their sleep quality. If you drink coffee make sure that you have your last cup before noon, as it can take up to 11 hours for your body to metabolize the caffeine.
Alcohol should also be avoided from at least three hours before going to bed. While it is true that alcohol will initially make you feel drowsy, this is a short-lived effect. Alcohol actually hinders you from reaching NREM and REM sleep stages, which is when the body heals itself. This means that it can cause you to wake up a few hours later and not be able to fall asleep again.
5. Have A Wind-Down Routine
Simply jumping straight into bed while your mind is still racing about things that need your attention will cause difficulty when it comes to falling asleep. Many professional athletes combat this by having a wind-down routine that helps them to transition to sleep more smoothly.
Some athletes prefer yoga or a stretching routine, but reading is also good, provided it is from a real book and not an electronic device that emits blue light. It is also good to get into a routine of going to bed at the same time each night.
As tempting as it is, you shouldn’t sleep in on weekends either. Doing so can result in alterations to your sleep drive, making it harder to fall asleep at your regular time during the week. The result of this body-clock disruption can be chronic sleep problems in the long-run.
6. Ease Insomnia And Anxiety With Lavender
Professional athletes often have to deal with anxiety before big sporting events, but cannot turn to medication for relief. A natural solution, which has been proven to ease anxiety and thus result in better sleep is lavender.
Studies have even found that lavender oil can decrease blood pressure, skin temperature and heart rate, all of which can result in a more relaxing and deeper sleep.
7. Avoid The Snooze Button
Hitting the snooze button on your alarm and getting in a few more glorious minutes of sleep might feel good, but it is not that good for the body. In fact, repeatedly hitting the snooze button in the mornings can actually leave you feeling more tired.
This is because the repeated cycle of waking up, hitting the snooze button and then falling asleep again causes major disruptions to your sleep cycle. It also means that you get less restful sleep than you would have by simply setting the alarm for the exact time you need to get up.
This will prevent that groggy feeling you get from relying on a snooze button. In fact, some people place their alarm clocks on the other side of the room, which forces them to get up in order to turn it off instead of simply reaching for that button.
8. Take Naps In Moderation
Taking naps during the day is a great way to recharge your body, but don’t overdo it, as it could leave you restless at night. For the best results, try to limit your naps to about 25 minutes or less. This will prevent you from going into the deeper stages of sleep and experiencing sleep inertia when you wake up.