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Sleeping better

12 Essential Sleep Tips For Athletes

Is there anything worse than getting into bed at night, only to toss and turn for hours before finally falling asleep – just 30 minutes before your morning alarm is set to ring?

Some people are naturally solid sleepers, while others require sleep aids, special pillows, and a whole lot of practice to log hours of quality shut-eye. If you’re among those who struggle to sleep well at night, go grab your earplugs, sleep mask, and white noise machine, put your phone on do-not-disturb mode, and try these simple but effective sleep tips from well-rested athletes.

1. Get a great pair of earplugs

“I’m generally a light sleeper and I wake up super easily and frequently,” says marathon runner Robyn Mayer. “But over the past few months, I started wearing foam earplugs every night, and they are a total game changer. I sleep much more soundly and actually fall asleep faster.”

2. Make your bed a sleepy sanctuary

“I reserve my bed only for sleep,” says runner Carly Michelle. “No reading, no watching TV, no talking on the phone. I started doing this, and I’m now a champion sleeper.”

3. Consider rescheduling your late-night workout

“Whenever I work out in the evening, I am wired for the next five or six hours,” says runner Lucy Wallace. “I like the idea of getting in a good sweat before bedtime, but anything after 7 PM really doesn’t help me.”

4. Train yourself for sleep

“Choose an activity to do only when you feel sleepy,” says behavior analyst Britt Pacheco. “I choose playing Solitaire on my phone, but I only do it when I’m already tired. Do it a bunch of times over the course of a few weeks until you literally can’t keep your eyes open. Eventually, after being paired with sleepiness, the activity will make you sleepy. Every so often, you’ll need to re-pair the activity with being naturally tired to keep it going, but anytime I can’t sleep, I whip out some Solitaire and it makes me sleepy.”

5. Resolve your stress before crawling into bed

“If I’m feeling worried, I deal with it as best I can before even getting into bed,” says Carly Michelle. “And then I don’t let myself struggle to sleep. If I’ve been awake for more than 20 minutes, I’ll get out of bed and do something, and I’ll only get back in bed when I feel that un-fightable urge to sleep.”

6. Set the mood

“I start turning off or dimming the lights in my house a few hours before I want to go to sleep,” says runner Meggie Jensen. “This helps relax my eyes and brain before bedtime.”

7. Power down

“I stopped sleeping with my phone in my room, and my alarm clock isn’t visible from my bed, so if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can fall back asleep pretty quickly,” says marathoner Jess Podell.

8. Grab some essential oils

Diffusing essential oils – lavender is a top choice – before bedtime will help you relax. “I put dry lavender in my pillow,” says runner Daniela Giraldo. “It completely relaxes me, eases my tension, and helps me fall asleep, but it also helps me stay asleep and wake up refreshed.”

9. Invest in a great mattress and quality pillows

“I sleep with a pregnancy pillow – and no, I’m not pregnant,” says runner Chloe Lewis. “It’s called The Snoogle, and I have no shame because it’s the best body pillow I’ve ever had. You snuggle it, it snuggles you, and you sleep like a champion.”

10. Remember, there’s an app (or podcast) for that

Some sleepers swear by keeping their phones out of the bedroom, but others love enlisting a little technology to help prep for sleep. Insight Timer, Headspace, Meditation Oasis, SimpleHabit, and Sleep With Me, among many others, are all popular among this athletic set.

11. Go to the bathroom

“I pee right before I get into bed,” says marathoner and triathlete Abby Reisner. There’s nothing worse than getting cozy and then realizing you have to go.

12. Minimize distractions

If you really want to sleep great every night: “Don’t have kids,” says Katie Leduc-Griffiths. (She’s kidding. We think…)

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share so that others can find it, too.

Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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