How to Sleep Better for Improved Recovery & Performance.
Sleep is the cheapest recovery & regeneration tool out there, yet it’s so abused. Even I am guilty at times because I am juggling a day job (London UK is very expensive!).
So here are 8 tips to help you sleep better, and you’ll feel better for it. Maybe even run faster times and be less injured!
Get Blinds, Sleep Mask & White Noise Machine
Sleep masks are a must for International travel, especially travelling West to East (i.e. New York to London), in the good old days of pre-COVID March 2020 when we used to travel.
If you live “in the north”, like Manchester UK, Edmonton Canada, or even Scandinavia, then you’ll have a very early sunrise in June & July, as well as late sunsets. (It does suck in December, though). So best prepare yourself and get thick blinds or curtains that can block most of the early morning sunrise. If you’re a light sleeper, and have glaring light come in at 4:30am, you will wake up. Trust me! And that is bad, unless you have a 6am flight.
Finally, there are white noise machines you can buy, and plenty of apps and websites that can help you sleep. I used to have a CD of Ocean Waves when I didn’t have the luxury of living next to the ocean! (OK, I still don’t live next to the ocean, but you get the picture)
Richie Mercado of the NACACTFCA recommends MyNoise.net.
Bud Winter’s How to Sleep in 2 minutes
Can’t sleep? Then check out this 2 minute video below. Bud Winter may be famous for being the coach of Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Lee Evans (and many many more I’m leaving out), but he was famous well before that with his relaxation techniques that was adopted by the US Military.
For more information, read Bud Winter’s Relax and Win.
Get a FitBit or Sleep Tracker Wearable Device
Because you can’t improve what you don’t measure. See my reviews of 2 of the older Fitbit models back in 2018. Maybe it’s time for me to try and review new devices?
Wearing a device keeps you honest, and more aware of your sleep (or lack of, for most people). It also keeps you honest of walking 10,000 steps a day, but that’s another story.
Buy a New Bed & Pillow
While you’re buying a sleep mask and blinds, maybe buy new sheets and a new pillow? If you find yourself sleeping better in hotel rooms, then new sheets, slightly starched, may be your secret. Maybe you sleep better in hotel rooms because you are on vacation, and less stressed? Is there a correlation? Of course there is.
But maybe you prefer your own pillow when travelling? I know I do, as I use the egg shaped or “support pillows” from IKEA. You can find them everywhere, like John Lewis in the UK. The idea is keeping your neck and spine aligned with your head on a pillow.
You’ve heard the old cliché… You spend one-third of your life in bed. So make sure you find the right bed.
Microstretching, to Decompress the Neck & Back
If you do a lot of computer work, you know your neck and back are hunched and tight. Same with being on the phone & tablet all day!
I do Microstretching at least 5-6 times a week before bedtime. It also keeps me away from the phone, tablet and computer (more on this later). Yes, I miss a day here and there, but I’m usually pretty good about it.
I’ve covered this topic over the past 14 years, and you can read more about Microstretching here:
- More on Stretching – Microstretching
- PODCAST on Microstretching Benefits
- History of microStretching® (Part 1)
- How Inflammation Can Affect Recovery, Performance and Overall Wellness
- How to Treat Pain and the Modern Gordian Knot Analogy
- What is Pain? What causes Pain?
Before you go to Bed…
I’ve covered supplements several times on this Blog, but I prefer to break down supplements in the “Timings”, that is:
- In the morning (i.e. general health)
- before a workout (i.e. ergogenic aids)
- after a workout (i.e. post-recovery shakes)
- before bedtime (i.e. better sleep or recovery)
That being said, take only one of the following just before bedtime:
- ACV (apple cider vinegar) + Honey
- Tart Cherry Juice
- Casein Protein, or other protein powders
Supplements has been covered at length in several blog articles under the category “Supplements”.
Screen Time Controversy
Some folks call this your “sleep hygiene”, just like brushing & flossing your teeth. Here are my guidelines:
- No screen time 1 hour before sleep time
- If you must, use a blue screen, or use your computer (MacBooks has this function called “Night Shift”)
- Stop thinking of work and worries, watch mindless shows or trivia, to keep your mind off the negative stuff.
Then again, if you like to watch mindless outdoor Mongolian or Azerbaijan cooking shows, or even a 30 year old Florida man eating 40 year old preserved MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, or meal replacements), then that’s okay too. Whatever works for you to help you relax and take your mind away from stress.
I haven’t covered Meditation before, which I can save for a future article.
Use this Sleep Chart to Show Impact of Less Sleep
Use this handy chart to show the effects of less-than-optimal sleep, especially for athletes.
As you can see, I wake up at 7am, and even my 11pm bedtime is MINIMAL. Keep yourself honest.
I hope these 8 tips will help you sleep better!