How serious do you take your sleeping habits? I remember being in college and the one NCAA champion on the team told me that she sleeps about 14 hours a day. This actually blew my mind because I was lucky to get 8 most days. She was sleeping at least 6 hours more than me on a daily basis.
That is 6 hours more of sleep in just one day. Now take that number and multiply it by 7 days or even 365! That is a lot more sleep and recovery that she is getting.
If you want to succeed as an athlete you need to get proper amounts of sleep. There is no way around this!
Sleeping for Better Athletic Performance
Take Sleep as Serious as Training
To change my sleeping habits for the better it meant that I needed a change in my mindset. Sleep was an after thought for me for a lot of my career. It was something I would get to when I felt like getting to it.
I never approached my training like this though. I built my whole day around what time I had to train. Why not build my day around what time I wanted to be sleeping also? Taking sleep serious means that when you don’t get the sleep that you set out to, you take it as serious as missing a workout.
Set the Wake Up Time
Everyone lives a different life and has a different schedule. Knowing YOUR wake up time is important because you work backwards from that time in figuring out when to go to sleep.
If you need to be up at 6am make that your wake up time everyday. This includes the days that you may not have to be up that early. This gets your body into a rhythm that it craves. When you do this your body gets to a point where it no longer needs an alarm because it just knows when it is time to get up.
Doing this also means the harsh reality that you wont get to sleep in. Regardless, when you are sleeping properly you don’t even need to sleep in. In 2012 when I made the Olympic team I was getting 10 hours of sleep every night, and I never craved more sleep once the morning came.
Have a Reason
Do you really want to be great? If so, that should be reason enough to put some proper sleep work in. Don’t think of things in a small way on a day-to-day basis, it is all about the small consistencies. One hour of sleep more is not a big deal in one day but over four years that adds up to be massive.
Get Off the Screens
Once you commit to turning off your light it is now time to sleep. We trick our bodies and suppress our melatonin production when we stare at our cell phones in the dark.
A simple solution for this is to put your computer and phone on timers where they go in sleep mode earlier then you plan to sleep. This is the only way I can detach myself from electronics at night to be honest.
We live in this constant fear of missing something important but you have to remember that you can always see Twittter and Instagram in the morning. Life will go on if you are not connected as long as possible.
Relax Before Bed
A great thing to do before bed might shock many people because it seems our generation has gotten far away from this. READ a BOOK, it is an amazing thing that many of us pass up. The great thing about reading is that when we do it for a while it makes most people tired, which is an awesome transition for what this whole article is about.
Prepare Way in Advance Because Time Flies
Funny how when we say we will go to bed at a certain time, we end up going at least 15 – 60 minutes later. I can’t explain why this happens but I know time just disappears around bedtime. The only way I can get in bed at 10 is to act like I need to be ready for bed at 9:30 that gets me in bed for 10 every time.
When You Put It All Together
You train hard to break your body down.
You eat properly to give your body nutrients to put it back together.
You sleep so that your body can actually take advantage of these nutrients and put the body back together.
That is why you need to take a no nonsense approach to sleep! Without sleep you will not have a complete train/recovery cycle.
What time are you going to start getting ready for bed?
What time are you going to wake up?
How are you going to find a way to take a nap everyday?
What distracts you the most before bedtime and how can you get ride of it?
What distracts you the most during the days and how can you change that?
How bad do you want to be great?
If you want to have better solutions you need to ask better questions. If you can answer the questions above you will have your new sleep rules to stick by. If you stick by them you will be well on your way to better performances.
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