Poor sleep habits affect performance both physiologically and psychologically.  Athletes need more rest than those that aren’t participating in a regular training program.  Getting enough sleep takes commitment.  There are many steps that you can take to improve your ability to get the adequate rest your body needs. Here is a list of good sleep hygiene practices.

  1. Plan and schedule sleep. Plan to allow yourself enough time to achieve the appropriate amount of rest.  Try to keep a consistent schedule (this includes weekends).
  2. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and cigarettes late in the day. There are a few individuals who have the ability to sleep after the stimulant intake, but generally these can affect the ability to sleep.
  3. Limit alcohol intake as this can have an effect on altering sleep rhythm and patterns depending on the individual. Alcohol has a sedative effect, but disrupts the full sleep cycle.
  4. Regular exercise will typically improve the ability to sleep. Caution needs to be observed to not exercise too close to bedtime.
  5. Practice relaxation. Some individuals have the ability to relax easily, but most require practice to learn to be able to settle their bodies and minds to allow for rest.
  6. Try and make your sleep environment a consistent and familiar one. Allow the ability to recognize a consistent environment as one that encourages sleep.
  7. Promote a comfortable environment. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature, have the appropriate bedding, and keep the room dark are some examples of promoting a comfortable sleep environment.
  8. Remove distractions. Turn off electronics such as TV, cell phones, Ipads, etc at least an hour before bed.
  9. Try and keep a consistent routine. Following the same routine prior to going to sleep can help with the ability to relax and prepare yourself for sleep.

Getting the appropriate amount of sleep is not easy.  Consistency is a key for helping get the most out of sleep. It can take time to establish the appropriate sleep pattern, but your overall health and athletic performance will benefit from it.