Feb 10

The Importance of Rest and Sleep – Part 2

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Suggestion and Strategies to Improve Sleep –

Athletes may be able to optimize training and competition outcomes by identifying strategies to maximize the benefits of sleep. If insomnia is severe and chronic and sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome) exist, a sleep medicine specialist should be consulted.

  • Use a training log to monitor training and recovery
  • Make sleep a priority in the training schedule
  • Develop and maintain regular sleeping habits and follow a regular, relaxing bedtime routine

Maintaining Regular Sleep Schedule –

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same times every day is helpful.
  • A regular schedule makes the training routine more consistent and regular and a steady sleep and wake-up routine (at the same time), helps the body adapt to regular training and nutrition plan as well.
  • Getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night is ideal.
  • Regular sleep habit that includes a 10 pm bedtime and 6 am wake up time seems to be the optimal schedule for both physical and psychological recovery, as well as wakefulness during the day, according to research.
  • ‘Catching up’ on missed sleep on weekends is not a healthy practice … it actually throws the body clock off even more.
  • Sleep more when training volume increases.
  • Take daily naps if not getting enough sleep each night – keep it short – less than one hour.
  • Get two consecutive ‘good night’ sleep before competition or a match.
  • Estimate personal sleep needs by experimenting over a few weeks.

If falling asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed and waking up without an alarm, most likely indicates getting the right amount of sleep.

If falling asleep immediately upon hitting the pillow and always needing an alarm to wake up, sleep deprivation exists.

  • Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • Good sleep hygiene habits help.
  • Monitor social activities that tend to interfere with getting enough sleep (parties, etc.)
  • Unplug. It’s a good idea to turn off all electrics about an hour (or more) before bed. Getting rid of stimulation – including television, loud music, commercials, computer screens and other distractions – helps the mind relax.

Avoid stimulating activities late at night, such as computer games and action movies. Constant computer or other electronic access, all-night TV programs, and late night socializing frequently interfere with establishing and maintaining healthy sleeping patterns at home and during travel to competition.

Put away the gadgets such as Smartphones, laptops and iPads emit blue light, which tricks the body into thinking it is daytime.

Additionally, those electronics emit artificial light that tricks the body into thinking it’s daylight, and stops the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Give the body at least an hour to get primed for sleep without all the bright blue screens and electronic distractions.

  • Keep the bedroom cool, dark and quiet.

Keep It Dark. Using light-tight blinds, shades and window covering helps set the right environment for sleep. Ambient light can be a distraction, and a glowing or flashing clock, or other light from electronics can also interfere with a solid night’s sleep.

Use light to your advantage – dim light tells the brain that it is time for sleep, and bright light says it’s time to wake. Keep lights dim for 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime, and use lots of bright light upon waking.

  • Keep It Cool. Lowering the thermostat in the bedroom to 65 to 68 degrees helps to fall asleep faster and sleeping more soundly. Experiment with the temperature, or amount of bed covers, but keeping it on the cool side is better for sleeping than being too hot.
  • Keep It Quiet. Nothing can cause more sleep disturbance than noise. If living in a noisy location – near traffic, airports, or have noisy neighbors – use earplugs to create silence. A white noise machine, or a fan with a constant hum may also be helpful.
  • Ban pets from the bedroom if they keep interfere with sleep.

Using Sleep to Improve Sports Performance –

  • Increase sleep time several weeks before a major competition.
  • Get Daily Exercise: This shouldn’t be too difficult. Getting a least 30 minutes of exercise each day is linked with better sleep quality at night. Even on a rest day, 30 minutes of easy physical activity, such as walking or just stretching, can induce sleep faster. While there isn’t necessarily a best time to exercise, some people report that exercising before bed makes them too energized and alert; therefore, experts recommend allowing about 6 hours of time between the exercise session and bed-time.
  • Adapt to the travel schedule prior to departure

The travel schedule is a consideration if time zone changes or early competition starts are necessary. In order to adapt the body to the respective changes these should be adhered at least one week prior to departure. Otherwise, insomnia upon arrival at the travel destination becomes a common problem.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation –

  • Early fatigue during training
  • Unexpected emotional responses

Negativism, pessimism, sadness, mood change, stress, anxiety, anger, frustration

  • Inability to solve problems, lack critical thinking or decision-making
  • Decrease alertness and focus during training or competition/match
  • Slower recovery from injury



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