Improve your sleep

Strategies to Improve quality and/or quantity of sleep

Inadequate sleep and/or poor- quality sleep affects the non-athletic and athletic population. Consequently, adequate sleep is a critical component for post exercise recovery thus effecting performance. Therefore, below we have listed strategies you can implement to enhance your sleep quality to optimise your health, work/sport performance and recovery.

Nutrition do’s and don’ts
Do’s

Consume tryptophan containing foods such as milk, meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, peanuts, cheese and leafy green vegetables in the evening meal to increase melatonin production.

Try including carbohydrate foods at dinner to assist with Serotonin production, e.g. potatoes, rice, pasta… this may not be ideal if overweight or working on losing fat.

Try consuming 30ml tart cherry juice in the evening to increase exogenous melatonin intake (also decreases DOMS -Delayed Onset Muscle soreness). Use in a periodised way, e.g. around high volume training or to get sleep sorted initially if in a rut or during competition.

Consume a balanced, healthy diet, including adequate wholegrains, low fat dairy foods, fruits and vegetables for magnesium and B vitamins.

Try 300-400mg Magnesium supplement prior to bed.
Don’ts

Alcohol intake prior to bedtime (fragments sleep later in the night)

Caffeine and nicotine stimulants intake prior to bedtime (individual tolerances do exist). This includes coffee, tea, energy drinks, cola, chocolate.

To be cautious of
Be conscious of food portions before bed (eating large portions of food can raise core body temperature and make it difficult to fall asleep) and fluid intake prior to bed (to minimise need to go to the bathroom).

Consume fluids with evening meal to increase absorption, then taper off;
i.e. individual fluid prescriptions may be necessary following late- night training/competition to ensure rehydration.

Aim for no more than one visit to the bathroom during the night to minimise sleep fragmentation.

Combating Stress
Use a journal to write down worries/thoughts before bed

Write a ‘to do’ list for the next day to help clear the mind

Body Temperature
Lowering core body temperature in the evening to induce drowsiness and sleep:

Skin-warming (for cool environmental conditions) – achieved through warm baths/shower/spa, hot foot baths, warm blankets or dressing gowns, wearing warm socks and woollen boots/slippers

Skin cooling (for warm environmental conditions) –achieved through cool showers, cold water immersion, appropriate use of air conditioning, light bed covers

Keep a Routine
It is critical to maintain a pre- bed routine to prime the body for sleep. This is crucial for proper sleep hygiene.

Allow 1 hour ‘the de-power hour’ to unwind before bed

Maintain a regular bed and waking time each day (entrains our internal body rhythm -circadian rhythm)

Avoid computer screens, texting, bright lights for 1-2 hours before bed (stimulates the eye). Some people may find a dimmer TV screen from a distance helps them relax.

Creating a sleep friendly environment
Keep the TV out of the bedroom.

Keep the bedroom for sleep activities only, and ensure it is quiet, dark and comfortable.

If you cannot sleep within 15 minutes of going to bed, get up again and try a different strategy. Eliminate the bedroom clock (avoids stress of ‘losing valuable sleep time/clock watching’).
Napping
Napping can be a valuable way of increasing total sleep hours. Experimenting with a 90 minute nap mid-afternoon (one full sleep cycle). Recommended for individuals during heavy training prior to competition or who are having short nights.

If insomnia is a problem, do not nap in the day. Otherwise time naps for 8 hours after rising time (2-3pm) and keep these no longer than 30 minutes.

Naps times between 30-90 minutes or longer than 90 minutes may result in temporary sleep inertia and performance impairments.

Napping 10-12 hours after morning waking time will likely disturb nocturnal sleep. Set an alarm to wake at the right time post nap.

Advertisements

How To Recover From Injury Faster

In order to achieve wellness, optimal performance and/or full recovery from injury or illness a combination of movement and exercise, nutrition and hydration, rest and recovery, and thought and stress control are necessary.

Movement and Exercise:

The right type and amount of exercise stimulates the growth and strengthening of injured tissues and is vital to the healing process following an injury.

Nutrition and Hydration:

It is important to eat the right amount and right type of food to ensure that specific nutrients are available for tissue repair. Drinking an adequate amount of water is essential to allow hydration of your joints, allowing your cartilage, discs and nerves to function normally.

Rest and Recovery:

Your body heals when you rest. It is important to get a balance with the right amount of exercise versus the right amount of rest. At nighttime your body undergoes its physical repair between the hours of 11pm and 1am.

Thought and Stress Control:

Excessive stress, extreme emotional responses and negative thought patterns may all interfere with the healing process.

Your physiotherapist is able to discuss all of these components with you giving you advice and information on how you can manage these factors to achieve the best results for your injury.