So, you want to be an elite athlete? What if I told you that you might be missing out on one crucial step in your development, and it doesn't even involve being on a pitch? So many young athletes I speak to these days don't get enough sleep and/or have trouble sleeping. It seems like common sense, but MANY student-athletes do not get enough rest and recovery time to perform at their optimal peak. Reasons for disrupting sleep include things such as the bed, the temperature, their phone (or other technology), stomach/body aches, intrusive thoughts, or their schedule. Here are a few simple tips to help you fall asleep more easily and ensure you receive consistent sleep each and every night: Temperature: Studies have shown that a cooler setting will help slow down your heart rate and help your body slip into a “Rest and Digest” state. When possible, the ideal temperature is between 65-68 degrees (Fahrenheit). Technology: The bright lights of your computer, phone, tablet, and television actually ‘wake up’ different parts of the brain. Aim to avoid technology about 1-hour before going to bed. If you MUST view a screen, using Grayscale (under display settings) is a great way to minimize the bright colors (aka “blue light”) that stimulate areas of the brain.
Stomach/Body: Going to bed on a full stomach can prevent your body from falling into a deep, restful sleep. Set a goal of eating 2-3 hours before going to bed so that your body has time to digest before trying to fall asleep. When you have a late practice, make smart choices on what you eat later in the evening, and be sure to avoid a lot of foods high in sugar (sodas, desserts, etc.). Thoughts: Following a simple static stretching routine can help relax your body before trying to rest. Even lying very still and focusing on taking slow, deep breaths can shift your mind away from all your thoughts or ideas and focus more on resting. I especially like apps like Calm or Headspace that have different ways to lull you to sleep, whether with relaxing sounds or meditation. Schedule: Just like having a game plan helps the team perform better, creating a bedtime routine can help you rest better. For example, start preparing for bed one hour before falling asleep (shower, brush your teeth, etc.). Then pick out your clothes for the next day, prepare your meals (breakfast and lunch) ahead of time, then finish by writing out your accomplishments from the day or your goals for tomorrow. Try to stay consistent with when you wake up and go to bed every day, even on weekends. Want more advice on how to maximize your sleep/recovery? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.