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10 Sleep Hacks Every Athlete Needs To Know

Health and Fitness

10 Sleep Hacks Every Athlete Needs To Know

1. Choose Your Workout Time Carefully

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While it’s well known that physical activity will help you drift off at night, did you know the timing of your workout can affect your sleep? A recent study found that those who exercised at 7:00am fell asleep quicker than those who did so at 7:00pm. However, those who exercised later on in the day slept through the night better, waking up less.

2. Stick To A Sleep Routine
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Sticking to a routine is crucial in your exercise programme and it’s the same with your sleep. No matter whether you decide to work out first thing in the morning or later on in the day, make sure that you stick to it.

3. Take Time To Nap
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While a 10-15 minute nap is a good way to restore a bit of energy, 90 minutes is the optimal nap time.  This is due to the fact that your body will go through a full sleep cycle in this duration and allows your body to start to regenerate any damaged tissue from the day’s workout.

4. Eat Protein Before Bed & In The Morning
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Your body is deprived of nutrients while you sleep, so a light snack which is rich in protein is a good idea before bed to help repair your muscles. It’ll also help you recharge in the morning and reduce food cravings through the day.

5. Set Realistic Sleep Goals
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If you’re serious about your fitness, you’ve probably got a regimented set of goals that you stick to religiously. As such, it’s important that you do the same for your sleep! Take into account everything including your job, family and age to determine just how much sleep you can realistically achieve (and need to wake up feeling refreshed) and make sure you stick to it.

6. Don’t Prioritise Exercise Over Sleep
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Sure, you know you need between seven and nine hours sleep each night, but what if you haven’t had time to work out? This doesn’t mean you should be staying up late or getting up early to make up for lost time. Instead, cut out other less important things from your day so that you have ample time both to exercise, and to recover.

7. Make Sure You Don’t Accumulate A Sleep Debt
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Having said this, if you simply have to get up early to hit the gym, it’s important that you acknowledge this is don’t accumulate a ‘sleep debt’. The same applies the other way around too, if you’re staying up late to work out, make sure you only do so if you can afford to have a lie-in in the morning.

8. Watch Your Caffeine Intake
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It should probably go without saying that caffeine isn’t great when you’re trying to get fit.  While a cup in the morning is fine, drinking coffee later on in the day for an energy boost is generally seen as a bad idea. An NHS study found that those who took caffeine pills six hours before bedtime slept an average of 41 minutes less than those who didn’t.

9. Cut Out Alcohol
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Not only does alcohol lower your testosterone and hinder muscle growth, it can also prevent you from getting a great night’s sleep. Booze will affect your circadian rhythm, and as your body begins to metabolise the alcohol, you’ll find yourself waking up more often in the night than you usually would.

10. Reduce Screen Time
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One of the best ways to wind down after a hard workout is to hole up in bed with a box set, or perhaps have a scroll through social media. However, the lights from all of your various gadgets will delay the release of melatonin, a hormone which usually helps you drift off to sleep and, as such, are best avoided for at least an hour before bedtime.

Courtesy of SleepyPeople.com

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