We all have hectic lifestyles where we fit in as much as we can in short spaces of time. Everything has to be convenient which allows us to do a lot more. It’s almost as if everything is done at 100mph, and we don’t really get the time to live at 0mph.
But when we do live at 0mph, are we getting the most from our sleep? Is it good quality? Particularly while we are training? Do we underestimate the benefits of sleeping? Do we prepare ourselves to sleep well? Here are some articles which highlight the importance of sleep, and key factors towards a good night’s kip…
How can I get good quality sleep?
Melatonin is the hormone which tells your body that it’s time to sleep. Our production of melatonin is affected if we see blue light. Blue light is produced by the sun, but we can also be subjected to it by watching TV or other light emitting devices such as phones, tablets and laptops (1).
If you don’t want to stop the habit of watching TV or using your phone on the lead up to going to bed, a very easy way to reduce our exposure to blue light is to wear an eye mask. Otherwise, it will probably take you longer to fall asleep.
You can also try consuming magnesium, as this will prevent abnormal neuronal excitations which leads to poor quality sleep. Magnesium is lost by sweating (2), you can help replace the loss by consuming magnesium rich foods such as seeds and green leafy vegetables.
How does a lack of sleep affect my risk of injury?
Milewski et al (2014) discovered that adolescents who had less than 8 hours sleep have 1.7 times greater risk of injury, compared to those who had more than 8 hours sleep.
Also, we store our muscle glycogen while we sleep. Therefore if you’re preparing for a match, a long run or bike ride, you’ll need to sleep long enough to get the benefits of carb loading.
How can I prepare myself to sleep well?
Try to go to sleep at the same time (3). However, if you have a lifestyle where bedtime can vary, try to have a little routine you repeat in a certain order, which finishes by you falling asleep.
Another tip is to regulate the room temperature. Studies show that a raised body temperature can lead to insomnia (4). On the other hand, a cooler temperature can make you fall asleep quicker and get some deeper sleep (5).
You may wonder why I’ve inserted a picture of a sleeping dog, Pablo, in this blog. The reason is because he changes his sleeping location frequently, from the warmth of a cushion, to the chilly wooden flooring. He is a smart dog…sometimes!
If you’ve found this blog helpful, please feel free to share it to your friends or family members who are currently training for an event.
(1) Bedrosian TA, Nelson RJ. Timing of light exposure affects mood and brain circuits . Transl Psychiatry. (2017)
(2) Tang YM, et al. Relationships between micronutrient losses in sweat and blood pressure among heat-exposed steelworkers . Ind Health. (2016)
(3) Phillips AJK, et al. Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing . Sci Rep. (2017)
(4) Lack LC, et al. The relationship between insomnia and body temperatures . Sleep Med Rev. (2008)
(5) Murphy PJ, Campbell SS. Nighttime drop in body temperature: a physiological trigger for sleep onset? . Sleep. (1997)