10 TIPS TO SLEEP LIKE A CHAMPION
Reading time: 6 min.
On World Sleep Day, it makes sense to review some of the reasons why we should appreciate sleeping well every day.
Fortunately, it's already common sense that a good night's sleep makes us more alert, more focused and prepared for a new day. Who hasn't gone through a terrible night of insomnia that made the next day a real nightmare?
Although the general population is aware of the main benefits that sleeping well provides us, there are some specific benefits for medium or high performance athletes, which can influence their performance and recovery.
Here are some of the benefits and also some tricks to help you have a restful night:
- Some researchers argue that a growth hormone is released by our body during sleep, stimulating muscle growth and recovery, bone development and fat burning - making sleep an excellent time for your body to recover and grow.
- A study by the University of California found that the risk of injury to young athletes increases after a night's sleep of less than 6 hours. Among other reasons, they found that two of the causes may be the fact that fatigue affects their immune system, making them more prone to disease, and also the short periods of sleep do not allow the body to regenerate cells or recover after long and intense training or gameplay.¹
- Another study, carried out by researcher Cheri Mah, with a men's basketball team from Stanford University, compared the athletes' performance over a period of 4 weeks following a normal sleep schedule and 7 weeks with an extension of that period (up to 10 hours of sleep). The researcher found that the athletes had better sprint times and increased throwing efficiency. In summary, their performance was better during the 7 weeks with extended sleep time.²
Given these benefits, it can be interesting to make sleep a factor to be taken into account in an athlete's routine, as it proves to be a tool to achieve success. A night's sleep allows the athlete to recover physically, but also psychologically. Athletes with good sleep patterns seem to be more focused, motivated and have a better memory.
As such, it is important to note that there are some techniques to improve sleep habits and have a good night's sleep. Here are some of them:
- Create a sleep routine - including the weekend. Try to wake up and go to bed every day at the same time;
- Avoid caffeine in the evening - coffee can have effects on the body for up to 6 hours;
- Turn off any type of screen (computer, tablet, mobile phone) 1 hour ahead of your scheduled bed time - you'll help your body "turn itself off" too;
- Sleep in a cool place - between 15.5 and 20º is the most advisable;
- In as well as being cool, make sure that it's a quiet, dark place;
- Wake up without an alarm (if possible);
- Invest in a high-quality mattress and pillow to improve your comfort;
- Monitor the quality and quantity of hours you sleep - there are several mobile apps that tell you how many hours of deep sleep you have slept, if you have had a full night of rest, etc..
- Luke A., Lazaro R.M., Bergeron M.F., Keyser L, Benjamin H, Brenner J, d'Hemecourt P, Grady M, Philpott J, Smith A. Sports-related injuries in youth athletes: is overscheduling a risk factor? (2011)
- Mah C., Mah K., Kezirian E.J., Dement W.C. The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players (2011)