Maintaining good health and a state of readiness to perform physically, technically and tactically are the foundation that allows an athlete to train and compete at a high level. To achieve this state of health and readiness, and also to benefit from additional adaptations to training, the competitive athlete must seek a balance between the stress of training and recovery. This means that every player must be just as proactive in their recovery process as they are in their training process. Only in this way can a positive and sustainable transfer to sports-competitive performance be ensured.
Sleep is the most restorative means of recovery in terms of neuromuscular physiology, metabolism, psychology and therefore for technical-tactical performance too. Good sleep has been identified as an important factor that contributes to sports performance (in the short and long term), as well as to the overall health of all human beings. However, certain factors, including the psychological, social and physiological stress that high performance athletes sustain, can disrupt the quantity and quality of the athlete's sleep. Improving an athlete's sleep hygiene is the key strategy to ensure good recovery.
As already mentioned, getting healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health, as well as athletic performance. In the same way, the good quantity and quality of sleep improves our productivity and quality of life. Everyone from children to seniors can benefit from better sleep, and sleep hygiene is key to achieving this goal.
Improving sleep hygiene has no associated cost or risk, which is why it has been a major part of strategies to improve public health for many years. Good sleep hygiene is about preparing yourself to be in the best condition to sleep well. Optimizing your sleep schedule, your bedtime routine, and your daily routines are part of the commonly used habits to make quality sleep feel more automatic and restful. At the same time, creating a pleasant bedroom environment can help you relax and fall asleep more easily.
Here is a list of 11 recommendations that can help improve sleep hygiene through different internal and external factors that contribute to sleep. However, these are not rigid requirements and not every strategy will best serve everyone. These must be chosen and adapted in parallel to the individual circumstances and preferences of each person in order to improve sleep in the healthiest, most practical and enjoyable way possible.
1) Avoid the use of electronics (i.e. bright screens) within the hour or two prior to going to sleep.
2) Only physically go to bed when you feel sleepy.
3) Maintain a regular and consistent sleep schedule (i.e. avoid disrupting circadian rhythms to the best of your abilities).
4) Avoid stimulants (e.g. caffeine, alcohol) beyond the later afternoon (i.e. 3pm).
5) Avoid alcohol or drugs to get you to sleep quicker. The quality of your sleep is actually severely impaired by these. Instead, reading a very boring book in bed may help!
6) Engineer your sleep environment. Ambient temperatures between 19-24 degrees Celsius are typically recommended, as are darker rooms.
7) Use your bed only for sleep.
8) Exercise routinely (if you are an athlete chances are this box is already ticked).
9) Hot showers or baths before sleep are a good idea.
10) Address any illness or physical injury that may interfere with your sleep as promptly as possible.
11) Spend time outdoors during the day.
** If you are a person of faith like me, prayer clearly helps and so does meditating ** :-)
Thanks for taking the time to read. Sleep well!
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