We often think of triathlon as made up of 3 disciplines but it arguably has many more including rest, fuel, transition to name a few…. Ensuring an athlete has recovered sufficiently before the next training session is vital to success in the sport, and the importance of sleeping well is often over looked.
Many individuals take their sleep patterns (whether good or bad) as a given, and don’t consider how they can train themselves to improve this element of their lives. The key to sleeping and recovering well is consistency and allowing you the opportunity to relax before trying to fall asleep.
These are Life of Tri’s 12 key points to getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis:
- Establish a routine that you consistently stick to each evening. Follow the same routine every night including what you do and roughly when you do it. It will take time to establish any new change to your lifestyle so be patient.
- No caffeine for at least 6 hours before bed.
- No alcohol or limit your consumption while you are trying to establish a new routine.
- No exercise for 2 hours before bed.
- Limit food for at least 2 hours before bed.
- No screen time for 30-60mins before bed (no tv or phone) – if you have a blue light filter on the phone/tablet switch it on.
- Read a book or magazine in the absence of your tv/device.
- Have a warm drink – a hot choc or milk but ensure it is low sugar.
- Get into the habit of starting your bedtime routine 30/45mins before you want to get into bed – give yourself time to brush your teeth, remove make up, prepare for the following day.
- Some yoga or light stretching can relax you. It only needs to be 5 mins of gentle stretching.
- Breathing exercises or mindfulness can prepare you for sleep, relaxing your mind – again only needs to be a few minutes.
- If you are the sort of person that is still analysing your life at bed time, you need to learn to park these thoughts so your mind is relaxed for sleep. As mentioned, mindfulness is one tool, but making a ‘To Do’ list for the following day is another way of giving yourself permission to stop analysing.
Be consistent with your approach, having the same relaxing routine each evening will allow you to prepare for sleep. Work hard to maintain the new changes for a few weeks which will ensure the routine becomes habit. However, review your new routine to check everything works for you. Don’t be afraid to make tweaks to the routine, or drop a particular element if it doesn’t fit into your lifestyle. You don’t need to do everything suggested above; you need to find what works for you. The new routine should be enjoyable which will help make the change sustainable.