Sleep can be the difference between high intensity/aggressiveness, and exhaustion/lethargy on the field. However, finding the proper amount of time to sleep can be challenging, and actually falling and staying asleep can be nearly impossible at times! Becoming a master of the bedroom can be difficult to be sure, but if you can achieve it, a plethora of benefits will soon follow.
So, where can you begin to conquer your insomnia and gain a restful night of sleep? First, it is always good to take a step back and assess your current routine and nighttime habits. What do you each night before bed? How much sleep is enough sleep for you? Some athletes can get by with 6 hours, others need at least 8 to feel well-rested. Everyone is different, which makes following a rigid plan you may find online, not as beneficial as you may think.
Once you have your current routine listed out, take a moment to critically analyze your behaviors and actions. Do you usually intake caffeine or sugar within 6 hours of your bedtime? Do you normally work on homework or other projects right up until you try and fall asleep? Do you have electronics that emit light in your room, preventing it from being as dark as possible? These are just a few examples of sleep-preventing variables that can negatively affect your rest potential.
One of the biggest sleep-combating behaviors athletes get in the routine of doing is browsing social media in bed. This is a habit that many of us partake in. We love to stay in the loop, and it is so easy to grab your phone and scroll for a few minutes before you call it a night. The danger of this? Your brain will begin (if it hasn’t already) to associate your bed with actions other than sleeping. The human brain can be your greatest ally, or your darkest enemy. The key is to take control and ensure that when you crawl into bed after a long day, your brain is thinking only one thing: sleep! Making sure that your bed is reserved to rest and nothing else, can be the difference-maker in feeling relaxed and in the right mindset for a good night’s sleep.
The bottom line is that you need to find what works for you. Trial and error can be the best practice in determining what nighttime formula gets you ready to enter dreamland and stay there. Keeping a sleep journal can be a great tool for this. Track what helps you in the evening and what hurts. Hold yourself accountable to the bedtime goals you set. Make getting a great night of sleep a top priority and don’t settle for ‘good enough!’