A good night of sleep is essential in the recovery process of a hard ride, or in preparation for a big event. Sleeping well helps your muscles relax, recover and build more strength and during the night your energy storage will also be restored. Aside from these more logical functions, sleep is also important for memory, reaction time, hand-eye coordination and learning and acquiring new skills. Unfortunately a good night of sleep isn’t always as easy as it might seem. Here are some tips to make sure you sleep like a baby!
- Stick to a sleep schedule
Go to bed at approximately the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Yes, also in weekends. This helps to regulate your biological clock and eventually will make you fall asleep at the same time every day
- Calm down
Have a relaxing bedtime routine. Wind down from a busy day before you go to bed and you will already start to feel a bit sleepy. Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises are excellent ways to help you calm down and make it easy to fall asleep.
- Put your phone down!
And your tablet. And turn off the TV while you’re at it. Instead, read a few pages in a magazine or a book to calm down before you go to bed. The blue light from electronic devices such as phones, tablets and TVs inhibits the melatonin secretion in your body. Melatonin is the hormone that makes you fall asleep, so by having all that blue light around your eyes before bedtime, you are keeping yourself awake.
- Avoid powernaps
A powernap might seem essential to get through the day if you have had a bad night of sleep. But when you have a structural sleeping problem it’s best to avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. This way you keep your body clock in line and you will be tired when you have to go to bed.
- Evaluate your room
Make sure your surroundings are ideal for a good night of sleep:
- Eliminate annoying noises and lights, for example by using shades, eye covers or earplugs.
- Keep your bedroom cool. It has been proven that you sleep better when your bedroom is colder.
- Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow. Nobody sleeps well on a plank.
- Avoid foods that can disrupt your sleeping pattern
Alcohol, coffee and cigarettes are foods that arouse you and therefore will make it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Use the light!
Studies have shown that exposing yourself to bright lights (preferably sunlight) in the morning and avoiding bright lights in the evening helps to manage your circadian rhythm. When you have a well-regulated circadian rhythm, your body falls asleep and wakes up at about the same time every day like a clock!
- Leave the worrying for the morning
Make a ‘worry-list’, write it down and put it aside. Your bed is not the place to solve daily troubles.
- Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex
If you associate your bed with other activities, like work, it will be hard to wind down at night when you finally lay down in your bed.
Sleep is the most important aspect of recovery where you build strength, restore energy and improve brain functions. With these tricks up your sleeve you will be able to make the most of your sleep so try them out tonight!
Written by Sophie van Bakel sophievanbakel.nl
Note that these are the author’s interpretations and applications of research they have performed.