More than just Beauty Sleep
I always look forward getting my beauty sleep at the end of each day and I love naps.
I’ve taken plenty of them, especially after a game or a tough training session. And although sometimes I plan to sleep for 30 minutes and end up sleeping for more than an hour and half, I always feel better.
The power of sleeping and recovery is under appreciated and most athletes don’t even know what they’re missing out on. Like many of us, athletes face problems with sleep, ranging from having trouble falling asleep quickly or getting enough hours of sleep each night. Both of these factors can play a role in the lack of recovery and impact overall athletic performance.
Sleep More = Perform Better
We’ve all had those days. You barely got any sleep but you had to get through a busy day. Everything that would be normally manageable and not difficult suddenly feels a lot harder and you’re struggling throughout the day. Your workout is three times more difficult and practice/training for your sport is even worse.
Although it’s casual today for anyone to say “I only got 5 hours of sleep last night”, it doesn’t mean it’s the best route to take as an athlete. It’s almost common sense but sleep plays a giant role in how we feel and operate throughout the day.
Studies have shown athletes perform significantly better with more sleep. A study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal showed basketball players were able to decrease their sprint times, increase their basketball shooting percentage, while also improving their mood and alertness with an extra one to two hours of sleep.
Tips to Fall Asleep Faster
Falling asleep at night for many of us is difficult but here are ways that I’ve found that have helped me greatly.
Stay off the Phone
Literally put your phone out of your reach. Set your timer if you need one to get up in the morning and then put the phone away. Having it away from you will make it more difficult for you to randomly grab it and go through social media and also force you to physically get up to get it in the morning.
Breathe and Relax
Sounds super simple but so many people let their thoughts consume them late at night. We all have worries and stressors but give yourself a break before you sleep. I like to close my eyes and only focus on my breath. Big deep breaths and you’ll find yourself asleep in no time. Whether the day was great or maybe it kind of sucked, right now it’s time to relax and get some quality sleep.
Don’t Check the Time
Nothing is worse than trying to sleep, looking at the clock to see the time, and then calculating how much sleep you’d get if you fell asleep right at that instant. That instant never comes and you’re up for a lot longer than you’d want to be. Put your phone out of reach or your alarm clock facing away from you. Don’t fall into the trap of constantly checking the time and counting down the time missed on sleep.
Respect the Power of Sleep
Sleep is literally the time our body rebuilds itself from the stresses we put on it. It’s the best form of recovery, far beyond your foam rolling and stretching. The more we can see it as that, the more we all can appreciate and use sleep as a tool for us. So next time you have a tough practice or really difficult workout, try your best to get to bed and rest up. You’ll be surprised for what 8-10 hours of beauty sleep will do for you.
Brandon Brelsford is one of the trainers at Olympia Fitness and Performance. He graduated from Rhode Island College with a B.S. in Community Health and Wellness with a concentration in Wellness and Movement Studies. After graduating, Brandon obtained his CSCS (certified strength and conditioning specialist) from the NSCA. Brandon enjoys helping his clients realize what they’re truly capable of and enjoys seeing their growth in and out of the gym.
Bird, S. P. (2013). Sleep, Recovery, and Athletic Performance. Strength and Conditioning Journal,35(5), 43-47. doi:10.1519/ssc.0b013e3182a62e2f