SLEEP CAN BOOST SPORTING PERFORMANCE

“A recovery strategy vital to support both health and sport performance, during all stages of the training cycle is sleep.” Dr Nicky Keay, British Journal of Sports Medicine

Sleep not only helps the muscles and body repair after exercise, it can also boost performance. Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep every night, professional athletes 10+, but are we doing it right? You need to wake up refreshed and ready to face the day, not exhausted from tossing and turning all night.

Immediately after exercise:

Warm down – stretching after exercise reduces lactic acid and therefore improves muscle recovery
If you can face it, finish your hot shower with a blast of icy cold water, dilating the blood vessels, helping to eliminate toxins.
Don’t go down the pub for a swift pint – alcohol floods your system with toxins which your body treats as a priority, leaving less energy for recovery

Drink water to rehydrate – water is our friend – remember – 2 litres and day, more if you are doing strenuous exercise
Protein intake before bed can help with tendon and muscle recovery, but cut out the caffeine and the alcohol, both of which are stimulants likely to keep you awake and counting sheep.

Before Bed:

Eat a banana! It contains melatonin which helps you fall asleep faster. Also a nice cup of tea – think calming chamomile or perhaps peppermint, and definitely nothing caffeinated.

Put your ‘phone down. A recent study in the US found that social media use 30 minutes before bed can be associated with disturbed sleep. If you’re regularly waking up feeling sluggish, get into the habit of locking up your devices!

The bed:

Whether you like a firm or soft mattress, memory foam, springs, or a hybrid of both, get the best you can afford, and don’t wait until it’s sagging in the middle to replace it. A mattress is an investment and should last you a decade or longer, so go for a reputable make with a home trial so you can send it back if it’s not right. Make sure your pillows are firm, your sheets are cotton and consider a mattress topper for the ultimate in luxury.

The pyjamas:

Swedish brand dagsmejan has invented an exceptionally breathable fabric to make snazzy sleepwear with stretch engineered waistbands and flat seams, the upshot being that fluctuations in your body temperature are minimised while you sleep and comfort is king.

Night night all.