10 Practical Tips to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

Written by Kristen Dunsmore

February 29, 2024

Understanding the Role of Sleep for Health and Performance


Adequate sleep is a cornerstone of health and wellness, often overlooked in its critical role in recovery for athletic performance. Its influence extends beyond mere rest, impacting mood, cognitive function, and overall life quality, both inside and outside fitness. More sleep is needed to maintain athletic performance and improve recovery, particularly in skill- or energy-demanding activities.

Sleep is a daily health behavior that significantly impacts our lives inside and outside the gym. It’s well understood that lack of sleep can adversely affect mood, cognitive performance, and overall quality of life. This connection naturally extends to fitness, where both acute sleep deprivation and chronic sleep insufficiency can impair athletic performance, especially in activities requiring high skill or volume.

When considering sleep, two key factors come into play: the duration (quantity) and the restfulness (quality) of sleep. This encompasses the ease of falling asleep, the frequency of nighttime awakenings, and the feeling of refreshment upon waking. While the general guideline for adults is 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, athletes may require more to accommodate their rigorous physical demands.

Optimizing restorative sleep is essential for athletes aiming for peak performance, rapid recovery, and minimizing injury risk. Ensuring a routine of restful sleep will significantly enhance your well-being and performance.

The Significance of Restorative Sleep


Restorative sleep is pivotal for bodily healing. During deep sleep, vital repair and growth processes occur, including muscle tissue repair and anabolic hormone release, such as human growth hormone (HGH). These processes alleviate the physical toll of intense workouts and competitions, fostering more effective recovery and physical enhancement over time.

Moreover, sleep quality directly influences cognitive abilities crucial for athletes, such as focus, memory, learning, and decision-making, enhancing strategy, agility, and concentration during performances. Enhanced sleep quality also aids in the consolidation of daytime-learned motor skills, improving technique and execution in competitive scenarios.

Furthermore, sleep profoundly affects emotional health and mental resilience, which is essential for managing competitive sports’ psychological challenges. Prioritizing restful sleep is thus critical for optimizing performance, mental health, and overall well-being.

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation on Athletic and Daily Performance


Sleep deprivation’s impact goes beyond fatigue. It leads to diminished performance, slower reaction times, reduced endurance, and impaired information retention. Insufficient sleep can increase perceived exertion levels during physical activities, contributing to premature fatigue and waning motivation. This can affect athletes and individuals engaged in high-skill or attention-requiring tasks.

The cumulative effect of ongoing sleep deficits can have more profound, enduring implications than the immediate aftermath of a single sleepless night. However, adopting sleep extension strategies to enhance quantity and sleep quality has boosted sports performance. Additionally, strategic napping has emerged as an effective means to rapidly improve physical performance, offering a practical solution for counteracting inadequate nighttime sleep.

How Sleep Impacts Performance and Health


Physical Recovery and Performance: During sleep, particularly in the deep stages, the body enters a state of heightened anabolic activity, facilitating muscle repair and growth. This is crucial for athletes whose training and competition schedules significantly stress their bodies. The release of growth hormone during deep sleep is particularly important for tissue repair and muscle growth. Moreover, sleep replenishes energy stores, such as glycogen, essential for endurance and high-intensity performances. This restoration process is critical for recovery from past exertions and optimal performance in future activities.

Cognitive Functions and Mental Acuity: Sleep significantly affects cognitive functions, including memory, learning, decision-making, and reaction times. A well-rested athlete can process information more quickly, make more accurate decisions under pressure, and maintain focus throughout competitions. Moreover, motor skills are consolidated during sleep, meaning that the skills practiced during the day are reinforced and integrated overnight, contributing to improved performance and technique.

Emotional Well-being and Psychological Resilience: Adequate sleep is closely tied to emotional stability and mental health. Well-rested athletes tend to exhibit better mood regulation, lower levels of stress, and higher resilience against the psychological demands of training and competition. This emotional balance is crucial for maintaining motivation, handling the pressures of competitive sports, and coping with setbacks or injuries.

Immune Function and Health Maintenance: Consistent, high-quality sleep strengthens the immune system, making athletes less susceptible to illnesses that can disrupt training schedules and diminish performance. Furthermore, sleep has been linked to reduced inflammation, which is particularly relevant for athletes as it can influence recovery times and susceptibility to injuries. Metabolic and Hormonal Balance: Sleep influences various metabolic and hormonal processes critical for athletes. This includes the regulation of hormones that control appetite and satiety, which can affect body composition and nutritional choices. Adequate sleep also contributes to insulin sensitivity and metabolic efficiency, which are important for energy utilization and overall health.

10 tips for better sleep

  1. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule: Consistency in your sleep routine, even on weekends, can fortify your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, improving sleep quality.
  2. Foster a Sleep-Conducive Environment: A tranquil, dark, and astounding bedroom can significantly enhance sleep. To minimize disturbances, use blackout curtains, eye masks, earplugs, or white noise machines.
  3. Invest in Quality Bedding: The comfort of your mattress and pillows can significantly affect your sleep. Choose bedding that suits your personal preferences and the season.
  4. Minimize Pre-Sleep Screen Time: Electronic devices’ blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle. Aim to disengage from screens at least an hour before bedtime.
  5. Mind Your Diet: Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bed, as they can impede sleep. Opt for light snacks if necessary, but avoid foods that may cause discomfort.
  6. Establish a Relaxing Pre-Sleep Routine: Engaging in calming activities before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques, can help prepare your body and mind for sleep.
  7. Limit Nap Duration: While naps can be beneficial, long or late-day naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you nap, keep it short and early.
  8. Stay Physically Active: Regular exercise can promote better sleep, aiding in quicker sleep onset and deeper sleep, though it’s best not to exercise too close to bedtime.
  9. Manage Stress: Techniques such as journaling, meditation, or therapy can effectively reduce stress, which can otherwise hinder your ability to fall asleep.
  10. Seek Professional Guidance When Needed: If sleep issues persist despite trying these strategies, consulting a healthcare provider can help identify and address any underlying sleep disorders.

Start Your Strength Journey Today

Sign up for the Empowerlift Training Newsletter


When you sign up, you'll receive the latest updates on the fitness industry, tips and tricks to help you achieve your performance goals, and specifical promotions from Empowerlift Training.

lateral raises

You have Successfully Subscribed!