Ready? Set. Sleep! How Athletes Sleep to Compete

olympics sleeping sports winter

The London Olympics have started and we are excited to see our favorite athletes in competition. Since we have sleeping-athletes on our mind, it is time to delve into the competitive-power of sleep routines. Sleep is such an important part of physical and mental fitness that all athletes keep to a very 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.

1.) 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.

2.) 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.

3.) Relax before bed

Relax before going to bed by stretching and loosening your muscles, or by enjoying a warm bath.

4.) 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. If you find yourself having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep - here are some tips.

5.) 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.

6.) Peak performance is usually the middle of the day

Most people are at their best in the middle of the day. When possible, schedule major activities like competitions, business presentations or performances, in the middle of the day.

7.) Add a short nap before major events

Try taking a short nap before a major event. Some athletes benefit from a 45-minute nap followed by 15-minutes of quiet, waking time before competition.

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.