To play the game of your dreams, you need to spend more time dreaming. Research shows that one of the best ways to improve your golf game, tennis game or any sport you are a part of is to get a good night’s sleep tonight. The fact of the matter is that even the latest equipment and all the drills in the world won’t help unless you are giving your body enough time to rest.
That may sound simple enough, but the fact is that Americans have racked up a huge “sleep debt” through the years. On average, people living in the United States get at least one hour less sleep per night than they did 20 years ago. After several days, weeks or months of sleep debt, we have trouble concentrating and making important decisions about everything from our job to which club to use on an approach shot. The director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research in Bethesda, Maryland was recently quoted as saying that sleep is just as important to our overall health as a healthy diet and exercise. Sleep deprivation has been linked to many health-related problems including chronic fatigue and obesity. It’s also blamed for an increased risk of causing an auto accident. You can’t do your best driving on the road or off the tee without a good night’s sleep!
Getting enough sleep can be particularly difficult for competitive athletes who spend a great deal of their time on the road and frequently cross time zones. Like the advantages of a good pre-game routine, sleep is something that many of us take for granted . . . until we have a couple nights in a row of either not enough sleep or interrupted sleep. Sleep is without a doubt one of the most important aspects of our daily routine as far as the maintenance of health and prevention of disease is concerned. After all, sleep is when the body regenerates itself, thereby making it ready for a whole new day of activity. It gives your body a chance to rebalance itself. People, who sleep well feel better, look younger, live longer, and are more energized and motivated throughout each and every round on the golf course, match on the tennis court or play on the soccer field.
If the body is deprived of sleep, even a little bit, a person’s overall degree of health can easily become compromised without them even knowing it. When you wake up tired, you feel irritated through the day. Combine a lack of sleep with a high level of stress and we start to lose your competitive advantage. You can’t “burn the candle at both ends” do you think the Williams sisters get adequate sleep before a tennis match? Odds are that they do!
Sleep is not a luxury. It is crucial, and chronic sleep deprivation is dangerous. Sleep is an essential key to super health and a star athlete. Make it a priority in your life.
Natural Remedies to Help With Sleep
Melatonin helps to make us drowsy and regulate sleep. Sleeping in total darkness aids in the body’s natural production of melatonin, which is released by the pineal gland from within the center of the brain when one is asleep. One way that many people have found to improve their sleep is to take melatonin in supplement form.
Another terrific natural remedy for sleep disorders is the calming amino acid l-tryptophan. Tryptophan is now widely available in the U.S. without a prescription. If you have trouble getting tryptophan itself, you can get the next best thing, which is known as 5HTP.
Create a sleep sanctuary. Make your bedroom comfortable and quiet, with beautiful drapes and pleasant, peaceful pictures. Create a place where you feel relaxed and peaceful as soon as you enter. When you sleep, keep your bedroom completely dark or wear a sleep mask to ensure maximum natural melatonin production. Wear ear plugs if you are easily awakened by small noises. Invest in a comfortable bed. If it is too quiet, listen to a recording of nature sounds or soft music. Find a temperature that is most conducive to your sleeping—many people find that cool temperatures help to promote a restful sleep. Don’t allow the room to get stuffy. Keep the air circulating with a fan in your bedroom.
Relax with a bath in Lavender Epsom Salts (which is magnesium which also helps with inflammation and numerous other functions in the body).
Consider socks: warm feet = deep sleep.
Get regular exercise. Drink lots of water and minimize alcohol, sweet drinks and empty foods (particularly fast foods).
Standard: 7 to 8.5 hours
You don’t compete without preparation. Are you preparing properly for sleep with a healthy diet and limiting fluids and caffeine prior to bedtime?
Have you created a “Sleep Sanctuary” for yourself and your family?
___ Comfortable mattress
___ Pleasant interiors (curtains, shades, lamps, golf pictures, rugs, pillow)
___ Climate control (air conditioning, heating, fan)
___ Sleeping mask
___ Ear plugs
Summer time traveling can interrupt your natural sleep schedule. If you’re having trouble sleeping or just want to reset your sleep time when changing time zones, consider taking natural supplements, such as melatonin and/or tryptophan. Melatonin is the best supplement for resetting your sleep time by taking 1.5 times the amount you would take at your home time zone to help you sleep. Take melatonin one hour before the time you want to be your sleep time. The way to tell your optimal dose is to test at home. Some people do well on ½ mg while others do best on 6 mg. You will know if you have taken too much if you feel drowsier than normal when you awaken. Just be sure to set an alarm so you don’t miss your tee time. If you feel a little too drowsy in the morning, decrease your dose the next night.
Travelers, there are a couple of additional ways to help reset to a new time-zone. One would be to not eat on the plane and have your first meal on time with the new time-zone. When you are traveling to a far-away place, arrive at breakfast time, try to skip the airplane food, and have breakfast on time in the new zone. That breakfast meal combined with the sunshine helps to reset your internal clock. Also, take the time to get a 1-2 hour nap (not longer) as soon as possible after you arrive as this practice (done from time-to-time) has been show to give the cognitive ability of a full night’s sleep.
Sweet Dreams and Better Health!