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Ready? Set. Sleep! How sleep contributes to your performance and recovery

The number of people engaging in fun runs, triathlons and amateur sporting events is climbing each year as people place more importance on their health and fitness, and weave them into their lives in an enjoyable way. If you're one of them, have you considered how sleep plays a part in your performance and recovery? No matter what level of athlete you are, sleep is such an important part of physical and mental fitness, it’s important that you keep to a regular sleep schedule. Sleep routines ensure that an athlete’s mind and body are at their best. Many researchers suggest that anyone of any age can benefit from a practical, repeatable, daily sleep-schedule.

Here you’ll find tips on having the best quality sleep, to ensure you perform at your best.

Make sure good quality sleep is part of your regular schedule

Consistency plays a huge part in how your body rests and repairs itself. If you’re getting consistent, quality rest your body can repair itself every night, leaving you feel refreshed and ready to tackle work, training, and life in general. You can’t change your sleep quality overnight – it needs to be an ongoing process, so it’s important that you prioritise sleep.

Diet and hydration throughout the day

Throughout the day, eat well for your body type, activity level and age. Drink small amounts of water throughout the day and eat moderate amounts of fresh, healthy foods. Skipping meals or eating too much during a meal can disrupt your ability to sleep at the end of the day.

Finish exercise before dinner

If you are participating in sports or going to the gym, try to get your last workout in before eating dinner. If you don’t exercise, try adding a short walk to your daily routine and schedule your walk before your last meal of the day.

Relax before bed

Relax before going to bed by stretching and loosening your muscles, or by enjoying a warm bath. Winding down will help you fall asleep faster.

Eliminate things that disrupt your sleep

Turn off electronics, like phones, computers and televisions, before you go to sleep. Keep office-work, books, bills and paperwork at a desk and do not take these to bed.

Amount of Sleep

Most adult athletes need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep while actively training and competing, but the amount of sleep we need varies by age and individual.

Additionally, we need to consider getting more sleep when we are experiencing stress. Non-athletes and athletes can experience stress during business travel, or when worrying about work, family or school. Some sleep-experts recommend going to bed a little earlier or staying in bed a little longer to give our bodies a better chance to rest.

As we mentioned, the more consistent you are with your schedule, the better your results will be. Ask a sleep specialist or health professional for personalised help getting into your sleep routine or if you are unable to get the sleep you need.