Summer is finally here and hopefully, it will be here to stay for a while!
It’s that time of year when lots of us start getting a bit more active and outdoorsy – walking, cycling, swimming, even training up for 5k’s, 10k’s or ½ marathons. Ensuring that your body is in tip-top condition before a sporting event is essential in helping you get the result that you want and also helping your body recover properly afterwards.
So you’ve been training for months for an event, you’ve been eating the right type of diet to ensure your body is fuelled with the right nutrients but what about getting a good sleep the night before? This may be easier said than done as the anxiety or excitement starts kicking in. The quality and amount of sleep you get is often the key to achieving this. REM sleep, in particular, provides energy to both the brain and body.
If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release hormones. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease the production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity (1). Lack of sleep can not only lead to fatigue and low energy but it can mean that your focus and decisions are poor and that your body will have a slower recovery time.
Here are 6 top tips for getting a good sleep the night before a sporting event.
1. Ensure you hydrate properly throughout the day.
At least 2 litres of filtered water every day (especially the day before). This should be more if you have done any form of strenuous exertion – mental or physical. This can include herbal teas – Camomile is good to try in the evening as it has a calming effect.
2. Develop good sleep patterns in the build up to the event.
Have the same routine each night of the time you go to bed, warm herbal tea, brushing teeth, reading, light out. Don’t take any phones or iPad’s into the bedroom and don’t watch TV in bed as these can have a stimulating effect on our brains. Use blackout blinds if necessary and ensure your room isn’t too warm.
3. Don’t drink caffeinated drinks past 2 pm in the afternoon.
Also, reduce any alcohol consumption as these will both also stimulate and keep you awake or not give you the quality of sleep.
4. Add 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts to a bath or foot soak just before bed.
The magnesium in the Epsom salts will not only help to relax the body for sleep but it will also prepare the muscles for exertion the following day.
5. Take a light snack before bed as low blood glucose levels could keep you awake.
By this, I don’t mean a massive evening meal [Symbol] Eating tryptophan foods such as a banana, pumpkin, sesame seeds or oats will help to stimulate melatonin – the hormone needed to help control sleep and wake cycles (2).
6. In the build up to your event, eat regular meals!
Have your evening meal at around 6 pm, as this will help keep blood sugar levels and hormones balanced. If these are out of balance they then trigger the nervous system to kick in which may have an effect on your ability to sleep. Also, it’s hard to sleep when you are hungry or too full!
Relax! The preparation, build-up and the event itself should all be enjoyable, so start to incorporate some deep breathing exercises into your evening routine and enjoy the moment.
*References were all accessed on 19 June 2017