Sport et sommeil

Sport & sleep: bad habits to banish for better recovery

Sport & sleep: bad habits to banish for better recovery
Sleep and sports are two closely related concepts. Sports help us sleep better as they facilitate falling asleep and promote restorative sleep. Similarly, sleep has more than beneficial effects on sports performance. A good night's sleep allows you to be more alert. Your energy will be much better, and you will be able to perform well. Although the two concepts are closely related, their balance can be fragile if certain bad habits are applied.

So what are the bad habits to avoid if we want to maintain this balance?

Training too late in the evening 

It is not always easy to manage to train during the day; between work, children, and obligations, we tend to do our session in the evening. However, the choice of the time slot for training influences good sleep.

It has been shown that training 3 to 4 hours before bedtime complicates falling asleep. Indeed, our body temperature tends to change throughout the day. It increases in the morning when we wake up and decreases in the evening to prepare for the sleep phase. To fall asleep, our body needs to lower its temperature. This is why it is better to avoid a heavy workout before bed, which will raise our body temperature. 

Sport and sleep - body temperature during the day

Endurance cardio sessions such as fitness, team sports, Tabata sessions, or crossFit should also be avoided after 8 PM. These sessions tend to increase the heart rate, placing the body in a state of overexcitement and overheating, which can delay falling asleep.

Don't worry, though! You can practice these activities between 5 PM and 7 PM. This is when blood sugar levels and body temperature increase the most. It is also during this period that you are the most efficient. 

However, softer activities such as yoga, body balance, or stretching can be practiced after 8 PM. These activities promote relaxation, both muscular and mental, placing our body in good conditions and favoring falling asleep. 

Training too intensely upon waking 

Again, this practice can do more harm than good. Upon waking, the body experiences a cortisol peak, also known as the stress hormone. This hormone causes an increase in heart rate, which can be a potential risk for untrained athletes or those with a fragile heart. 

If you want to exercise in the morning before 10 AM, it is entirely possible. We recommend calmer, lower-intensity activities such as yoga or Pilates, which will place less demand on your heart rate. 

Having an irregular sleep schedule 

To avoid having an irregular sleep pattern, it is better to respect our internal clock and therefore follow regular waking and sleeping hours. Thus, try to adopt a good sleep routine by sleeping at least 7 to 8 hours per night. Not getting enough sleep or not establishing a sleep routine can expose athletes to injury risks. 

It is proven that sleeping well at night increases our alertness the next day. When an athlete lacks sleep, their level of alertness is lower, making them less attentive to their movements and gestures, which are less effective and precise. 

On the contrary, sleeping well allows our body to recover well and regenerate the muscle tissues damaged during training. 

Not listening to your fatigue 

Sport and sleep: not listening to your fatigue

Athletes often tend to overdo it. However, maintaining the same intensity during your session is a common mistake that should be avoided. This is especially important because it can lead to overtraining and, with it, a risk of injury. It is crucial to be vigilant about the signals our body sends us; if our body is tired and sleep-deprived, we need to listen and rest. Your body will thank you and come back stronger. 

If you still want to do your session despite slight fatigue, you need to adjust your session. Use lighter weights if it's a strength training session, shorten your session, do easier exercises, and for running, reduce your pace. 

Training irregularly 

Just as it is necessary to establish a sleep routine, it is essential to establish regularity in your sessions. Regular sports sessions also promote restorative sleep. Endurance activities practiced 3 to 4 times a week have a truly beneficial influence on the quality and depth of our sleep. This is highlighted by several studies.

Not taking naps 

Taking a nap during the day can help us recover and reduce accumulated fatigue. Opt for a nap of 10 to 30 minutes. To avoid disrupting your sleep, we recommend doing it between 12 PM and 3 PM. After lunch, when the body's alertness naturally decreases. 

Eating too much fat

If you are part of the team that exercises to eat more, this last habit to avoid might not please you. Even after training, avoid overeating, and opt for a light meal. A rich meal in the evening will complicate digestion and thus delay your sleep phase.

Prefer foods that are precursors of melatonin, the hormone involved in regulating our sleep, such as:

  • Lean animal proteins (fish, turkey, eggs, duck) 
  • Vegetable proteins (legumes, soy, ...)
  • Carbohydrates (whole wheat pasta, brown rice)
  • Dairy products 
  • Certain fruits (banana, pineapple, kiwi)
Sport sleep: foods that are precursors of melatonin

The final word

As you can see, the balance between sleep and sports is fragile. It must be preserved, especially by eliminating some of our bad habits. It is up to you to apply these tips and see the difference during your future workouts and nights. 

Moreover, we discuss the link between sleep and sports in more detail in this article

The post Sport & sleep: bad habits to avoid for better recovery first appeared on Le journal de l'oreiller.

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