A good-night’s sleep is nature’s best medicine and the cornerstone of recovery for athletes as it rejuvenates body and mind. Sleep strengthens memory and skills, boosts mood, modulates appetite, sharpens concentration and curbs nasty inflammation. Here are five essential tips to get sleep working for you:
1. Develop a sleep routine
Rise at the same time daily. This strengthens and anchors your circadian sleep process and is the best way to reset your biological clock for establishing a healthy sleep pattern. On weekends, stay within one hour of your wake time. Arrange mealtimes and physical activity at consistent times. Routine is the foundation of health, rejuvenation, sleep and digestion.
2. Unplug from technology two hours before bedtime
Cellphones, tablets and computer screens emit a blue-green light that stimulates your brain and interferes with your internal clock. Technology can be addictive and encroach on your sleep time. Checking work emails at night can create worry and stress.
3. Wind down before bed
Engage in calming activities in dim lighting two hours before bedtime to prime the body for sleep. Listen to relaxing music or read, take a bath, put on your PJs, practice diaphragmatic breathing or do gentle stretching.
4. Never “try” to sleep
Sleep is the passive process of letting go of the awakened state. Forcing yourself to sleep will only produce performance anxiety.
5. Activate with morning light
Light is the strongest cue for our circadian rhythms as it suppresses melatonin production during the day. Go outside for a few minutes in the morning and turn your face to the sun to get energized.