Sleep Improves Performance
Elite and professional athletes know that habits off the court (or track/rink/field/etc…) are just as important as the actual sport training. This is because secondary lifestyle factors such as recovery, diet, stress, and sleep can heavily influence performance outcomes. Focusing on sleep is more than a plush benefit of being pro; in a study of college basketball players’ sleep habits, scientific research shows that extra shut eye positively affects performance. These well trained, highly competitive athletes are known to sleep 10-12 hours per day. Some teams even utilize sleep centers for their athletes to promote better rest as well as study the rest the athletes get. In addition to a full night’s rest, coaches and trainers often ‘prescribe’ daytime naps between workouts. Sleep is often prioritized in elite athletes due to the fact that high volume and intense training can impair sleep quality; it is just hard for an athletic body to rest, even when sore and fatigued.
Regardless of your athletic status, you can benefit from more sleep. Especially since it’s likely you do not get the recommended 8 hours a night. In fact, roughly 40% of adults barely manage 7 hours a night. Getting enough sleep allows the body to rest and recover from training stress. Being in a sleep deprived state can leave you mentally foggy, unmotivated, and susceptible to making poor training decisions which can lead to increased injuries. Athletes suffering from lack of sleep are more likely to produce extra stress hormone, cortisol, which impairs fuel utilization and appetite control. Getting enough sleep is just part of the equation, because, like with most things, quality trumps quantity. During deep sleep, the body produces human growth hormone (HGH) which (in the natural form) is responsible for assisting with tissue repair and fuel utilization. Studying your own sleep habits is becoming an easy task thanks to personal fitness devices. Phones, simple apps, and numerous watches can track how long you sleep for and some can even tell you the quality, or restlessness of the time you spend sleeping. Becoming more in tune with your sleep status and habits is a beneficial task.
Simple advice: sleep more! Easier said than done. Most recreational athletes do not have the luxury of day time naps or 12-hour nights, but there are a few things you can do to increase shut eye.
Here are tips I use to improve my sleep:
Start a bedtime routine. This helps your body recognize when it is time to start ‘shutting down’.
Avoid screen time before bed. Okay I’m the worst at this, but I am trying to improve…
Set a bedtime and stick to it.
Avoid caffeine after noon. Hard to do, but so helpful!
Avoid late, heavy meals. Eating dinner before 7pm is very helpful!
Use earplugs and a sleep/ eye mask.
When I’m home, blackout curtains!
Listen to a ‘sleep wind down’ on Headspace.
Have a light bedtime snack of carbohydrates and fats to promote comfort and satiety. I like to have an evening steamer (see recipe below) and/or a bag of popcorn.
Take one or two Swisse Ultiboost Sleep Supplements.
Let’s talk about that last tip for a moment. I’m all for natural supplements that can improve quality of life & quality of sleep! While melatonin comes to mind when we think about sleep, the compound can be effective at first, but our bodies can adapt to it quickly. This means, you’ll need more and more until it becomes virtually useless. Instead of melatonin, I opt for Valerian Root. This herbal root may help promote sleep onset and restfulness throughout the night. One study found that it increased time to deep sleep by 36%. Another small study of 27 adults found that taking 400mg improved perception of sleep quality. A systematic review of randomized, placebo-controlled trials (real research!) of using valerian for improving sleep quality was conducted and found that there is evidence that this compound can have favorable effects on sleep without harmful side effects. Swisse Sleep Supplement focuses on Valerian Root as well as magnesium, a vital dietary mineral that also has a strong positive impact on sleep and muscle relaxation.
Here’s a recipe to try tonight:
1 cup milk (whole milk or unsweetened nut milk)
1 scoop Cocoa (I used Cocoa Elite Unsweetened Cocoa)
1 scoop Collagen Peptides
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp Mucuna Powder
¼ tsp Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Lavender
Gently heat the milk in sauce pot while whisking in all other ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow the lavender to seep into the milk. Strain and sip slowly to promote relaxation an hour before bedtime.
**If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or under any other kind of medical treatment, be sure to consult your physician before starting any supplements. All opinions in this blog post are my own. They are not intended to treat a medical condition, just sharing what is currently working for me. Thank you to Swisse for sponsoring this post. I am honored to work with a brand that helps me with my healthy lifestyle.