Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I can't sleep...

Preparation for a competition often includes such things like packing your gear the night before, scheduling travel time and getting a good breakfast.  Unfortunately, most people neglect an aspect of training and recovery that is one of the most important, getting a good night's sleep.

Anxiety disrupts sleep - how many times have you lain awake at night worrying about the competition ahead?  A lack of sleep interferes with your ability to remain alert during the day and can negatively affect athletic performance.

A restful night's sleep is essential for athletes, so we have gathered a series of tips that will encourage your chances of achieving this goal.
  • Try not to exercise too close to bedtime, this will make your mind and body too alert
  • If you need to squeeze in a nap, try to keep it under 15 mins
  • Develop a bedtime ritual, this will send the right messages to your brain that it's time to wind down and relax
  • Allow enough time in bed to ensure you get a minimum of eight hours of sleep
  • Keep distractions out of the bedroom - televisions, computers, cell phones, cover up your digital clock
  • Watch what you eat and drink - spicy or heavy meals and alcohol or caffeine may stimulate your body and reduce your chances of getting adequate sleep
  • Apply breathing or relaxation techniques
While you may not be able to completely suppress your pre-competition jitters, incorporating good sleep practices into your training can make a big difference.
References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Davenne D. Sleep of athletes - problems and possible solutions. Biological Rhythm Research. February 2009;40(1):45-52.
2. ERLACHER D, EHRLENSPIEL F, ADEGBESAN O, EL-DIN H. Sleep habits in German athletes before important competitions or games. Journal Of Sports Sciences. May 2011;29(8):859-866.
3. Halvorson R. Extended Sleep = Improved Athletic Performance. IDEA Fitness Journal. October 2011;8(9):14.
4. Jarver J, Anderson O. Just how crucial is a good night's sleep before a major event? / Pourquoi une bonne nuit de sommeil est decisive avant une competition importante ?. Track Coach. Summer 2002;(160):5122-5123.
5. Metzl J. Pre-race anxiety: Does a case of nerves help or hinder your race-day performance?. Triathlete. February 2006;(262):82-83.
6. Rosekind M. Peak Performance Requires Optimal Sleep and Alertness. Olympic Coach. Spring 2008 2008;20(2):4-7.

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