I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. Well, if we want to be able to give our best in competition, it’s not just the dogs who need to be allowed to do a bit of lying around!
SLEEP is crucial to giving our best. That’s why there are motorway service stations and signs on the road telling you to beware driving whilst tired. That’s why freeway rest stops might offer free coffee! Ever been around an over-tired toddler?! Yikes! We all know at some level that when we are tired, we are not at our best. But how many of us actually strategically schedule enough sleep so that we can function at our best during our waking hours? Sleep is when our body does its recovery works, and we need to give it time.
For some of you today, this should be a HUGE encouragement to sleep more! Make sleep a strategic priority. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or lazy, it means you take your health seriously and see the value in doing what best supports your physical and mental functioning during your waking hours. Any mental gremlin trying to tell you otherwise may be politely told to push off 😉
But what about you insomniacs out there? What have I got to offer you?
This came up on my Facebook page yesterday and, as promised, here are a few suggestions for how to enjoy more restful sleep. This is not a completely comprehensive list of course, merely a few pointers that I hope will help you.
A few relaxation exercises
Lie on your back and slow your breathing. Aim to breathe out slower than you breathe in. Deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe out, be aware of any tense areas of your body and visualize your ‘out’ breath taking the tension away with it. As you breath in, picture cleansing breaths clearing out the tension and leaving that area relaxed.
Relaxation exercise 1: tense and release
As you again work on your nice deep breaths, start tensing individual parts of your body, holding the squeeze for 3 seconds, then completely letting the tension go. Start with your feet, and as you move up your body, add bits, until you tense your entire body – including your facial muscles- before relaxing… zzzz…
Relaxation exercise 2: Let your mind wander
Admittedly this one is a little harder to do if you’re out in the wilds somewhere away from all civilization, but as there are very few completely silent places on the planet, I’m throwing this in. Lie in a comfy position and listen to the noises around you. Listen to a vehicle (or an animal if you’re out in the wilds somewhere) as it passes by. Go with it in your mind, and as it travels further away, imagine yourself going with it. Where are you going to? Is it warm there? Where do you find yourself? What do you do there? Go off on a mental vacation as far as you’d like from where you are. Sweet dreams 🙂
Other general tips
List yourself to sleep
If you’re one of those folks who goes to bed worrying about all you’ve got to get done the next day, do your schedule the night before. Right down everything that MUST be done the next day and a cunning plan for getting it done. Also schedule in decent breaks throughout the day- if nothing else, you’ll have something to look forward to. Having written it down, you are ready for tomorrow so let it go. You have taken the things out of your mind and onto paper that you were previously using brain power to remember, so let putting them onto paper clear that space in your mind.
Go to sleep sober
Sorry, but alcohol does not lead to quality sleep, so I’m just throwing it out there that if you need to be on top of your game tomorrow, you might want to go easy on the margaritas tonight.
Go to bed in the dark
Numerous studies have shown that light- including off TVs, alarm clocks etc. can disrupt sleep, so try to get your room dark. Obviously if you’re reading this from a hotel room at nationals that may be somewhat out of your control, but do what you can.
Like the tip above for scheduling your next day, scribble down today’s events in a journal if you’re struggling to let them go. Even just writing can help our minds sort out the clutter and ‘file it’ a bit more neatly. Sometimes even seeing what was bugging you on paper can be enough to show you solutions you weren’t able to see when the thoughts were rattling around in your head.
There’s just a few tips and exercises to help you out. Let me know how you get on with these and please share this with your friends!
To your success this season!