You have done all the training, eaten all the right things, and are feeling ready for the big competition tomorrow. How do you make sure all your confidence isn’t derailed by one bad night of sleep? Here are some tips for athletes to get a good nights sleep before a big competition:
1. First, make sure sleep is part of your regular training schedule. Sufficient sleep is important to athletic performance – have a routine and make regular sleep a priority. For professional teams and athletes, sleep monitoring and management is just as important as managing training exercises and nutrition.
2. Leading up to the big game or competition, try to bank some extra sleep. A study conducted at Stanford University demonstrated that increasing sleep to 10 hours per night for a period of time improved athletic performance for tennis and basketball players. Additionally, banking extra sleep ahead of time, will reduce the impact of restricted sleep the night before the big game or competition.
3. The day before the big event, plan to wind down early and do some relaxing activities. Make sure you keep with your sleep routine and take extra care not to do anything that might disturb sleep later – like eating a heavy meal too late or consuming caffeine after noon. To help promote sleep in the evening, shut off TV‘s, computers and smart phones, take a shower or bath, and do some stretching or reading to focus your mind and reduce pre-game anxiety. Make sure you have everything you need for the competition set out and ready so there is nothing to worry about.
4. Pre-game nerves are hard to control – if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, don’t panic. Remind yourself that you have made sleep part of your regular routine and banked extra sleep ahead time. Don’t get up and turn on lights or check your phone. Breathe deeply and do things to slow down your mind – like counting backwards or listening to quiet relaxing music.
5. If the day of the game arrives and you are worried that you haven’t slept enough the night before to perform at your best – you can plan a carefully timed nap. A 20 minute nap about two hours before your event should provide extra alertness just in time for you to hit the field.
Battling nerves to get a solid eight hours of sleep the night before a big competition is not always easy. The best strategy to ensuring you have sufficient rest to perform your best is to manage sleep as part of your regular training program.