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Simple steps to improve your sleep

Written by Accredited Sports Professionals   February 11, 2016

Simple steps to improve your sleep  article image

As a student I realise the importance of sleep. Sometimes I can find myself wishing I’d got a better night’s sleep as I sit in my 9AM lecture and I’m sure I’m not the only one who can find themselves thinking this in the morning. 

Many athletes believe sleep is key to improving performance. The BBC reported that sports stars including tennis legend Roger Federer and Basketball star LeBron James are both fans of ‘sleeping upwards of 10 hours per night’. Federer is even quoted saying ‘I believe it's really the sleep that gives you energy again down the road.’ World’s fastest man Usain Bolt even claims it to be key to his success ‘Sleep is extremely important to me’ Bolt says, ‘I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body’.

I am not a medical professional, but I am interested in sport, and in my blog this week I turn my attention to what we can do improve your sleep. I found a number of suggested tips.

Turn the TV off

The first mistake many are guilty of is leaving the TV on when going to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation states ‘Before bedtime, limit television viewing and computer use, especially in the bedroom, as they hinder quality sleep’. They also say having the lights on can affect a good night’s sleep.

Technology

Many of us own smart phones. An app simply named ‘Sleep Cycle’ is available for IPhone and Android. The app measures your sleep quality, how long you are in bed and as an added perk allows you to set an alarm that will wake you during your lightest sleep phase in the space of a half hour period. For more information visit their website here.

Screen protectors which include a filter to reduce the blue light that your devices produce. These screen protectors can help for an easier night’s slep and can be found on a quick amazon search.

Eat better

Having breakfast can help for a better sleep later in the day. Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan whom wrote the book ‘Tired but Wired’ told The Independent:

“It's more crucial that you eat breakfast first thing in the morning, in what I call a 'metabolic window'. It's a timeframe in which you can give your body an important message. It tells it that in your world there is an adequate supply of food, it can relax, and that it can fall into sleep mode when it needs to.” – Source

As well as starting the morning brightly, avoiding spicy food at night can be key in helping improve sleep. Web MD states ‘Spicy and acidic foods can also kill sleep efforts because they cause heartburn’. Sleep researcher Dr Charli Sargent adds to this stating ‘Anything that's going to cause reflux or indigestion might indirectly interrupt your sleep, so if you've eaten a meal that's quite spicy then it might be having an effect your sleep’. – Source

Daytime exercise

Exercising in the morning or afternoon (and not at night). The National Sleep Foundation reports that exercise in the afternoon can help deepen your sleep however they do warn over exercise can cause the opposite.

All in all sleep is important to your fitness and health. Despite the steps covered here, you will need to find what works for you. It is however worth investing some time to try methods as sleep is important to how you function daily.

This article was written by Dan Armstrong. A Staffordshire University student with a keen interest in sport, fitness and everything in-between.