When you think about being successful in goal, what are the two first things that come to your head? I’m guessing your answers were something like training, lifting, running, or nutrition? It seems drilled into our minds constantly that if you work insanely hard and fuel your body with proper nutrition you'll be successful. While this is true, there’s one huge aspect that is missing in this equation.
The missing link here is SLEEP! Don't believe me? Just read below an excerpt from a blog I wrote in college about the work Cheri Mah was doing at Stanford.
Cheri and other researchers at Stanford performed a study following basketball players. For five to seven weeks they tried to sleep for 10 hours, and while not always successful, they increased sleep time more than 90 minutes. After the study, collectively they took almost a full second off of their times in a sprint (three lengths of a basketball court). Also, they improved both the accuracy of their free throw and three-point shooting by 9 percent. What Cheri told us, and what many student-athletes feel is that they’re doing fine with their sleep. However, in reality, many student-athletes aren’t reaching their full potential. Later on in the talk she showed us a video of a Stanford swimmer who had participated in the study, who said every single time he swam he improved his time and even beat 20 year-old records set by swimmers who went on to become Olympians.
Okay, wait what did I just read? Sleeping helps with schoolwork, your mood, energy, but it also will make you a better goalie! Your reaction time and hand-eye coordination will actually be BETTER with just an extra hour of sleep!
I'm not an expert here, but it seems to me that there is a direct correlation between performance and increased sleeping. Also, my family and friends don't need an expert to tell them that sleep is CRUCIAL for me. Over the years, I've had my battles with sleep. I feel like I've finally figured it out instead of sitting in bed letting my thoughts get away.
Here are some tips that have helped me:
Start a bedtime routine – always do the same thing before bed so your body can wind down and prepare
Don’t do work in your bed – when you start working in your bed, your mind doesn’t know to slow down when it’s actually time for bed.
Put the phone away – Yes, I said it. Phones and other screens emit blue light that makes your brain think it’s supposed to be awake. (On iPhones there’s now a night shift mode if you must use it)
Get a good pillow – Comfort is key to a good nights sleep. Make sure you have the right pillow, whether you’re a side, back, or stomach sleeper.
Use a white noise machine – I use a Dohm white noise machine that I swear by. It was given to me as a gift when I had trouble sleeping in college. It seriously saved me. There would be nights where I would continuously get 4 hours of sleep. That is no way to function, trust me. By focusing on the sound, my brain isn’t thinking about everything else I usually think of (all the things I still need to do!). I highly recommend trying it!
Try using a diffuser, or pillow mist. If you're not into smells then it probably won't do too much. You can find inexpensive ones on Amazon to try to help calm you as well.
Read a book before bed! I started doing this in the last year and it's been great. I've always wanted to read more, so I try to read for 10-15 minutes a night. It's manageable right??
Keep the lights dim before bed. As you can see from the photo, I like to keep my lights dim to let my body know that it's time for sleep. Bright lights (for obvious reasons) wake you up!
Set yourself a bed time or at least a wind down time, that will aim to get you the maximum amount of sleep! Trust me, that show you want to watch can wait until the weekend.
Sleep well friends.