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10 Sleep Hacks Every Athlete Needs To Know [Infographic]

10 Sleep Hacks Every Athlete Needs To Know [Infographic]

For those who take their fitness seriously, there are parts of our daily routine which are prioritised over everything else; these are, of course, exercise and diet.

The two really go hand-in-hand. Exercise helps us lose weight and improves our fitness. Creating the perfect diet both fuels the body to achieve certain exercise goals and also acts as a supplement to improve physical growth and recovery.

The tricky thing is finding a delicate balance between the two, ensuring you get plenty of exercise without neglecting a healthy and balanced diet. Take a look at this informative post from Real Simple which discusses the two in more detail.

Athletes & Diets

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However, all bodies are different and some can cope with less healthy diets than others. There are many examples of successful sports stars who regularly eat mounds of junk food between serious competitions and are still able to get into a healthy routine when it comes to the crunch.

There are plenty of great examples of this, one of the most famous being the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt. 

The record-breaking sprinter admitted to eating 100 McDonald’s chicken nuggets every day during the Beijing Olympics where he won three gold medals. You can read more on his junk food habits in this article from Joe.

While exercise and diet are extremely important to anyone hoping to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, there are other things which are just as important, but a lot less frequently discussed.

One example is sleep. Sleep is massively important in ensuring we are fully rested and energised for the following day. However, by concentrating fully on exercise and diet alone, the amount of sleep we get can often take a back seat.

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Athletes & Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation are one of many who suggest that the recommended amount of sleep each adult should have per night is eight hours. Any less and our bodies may not be sufficiently rested and may not function at the peak levels we want every day.

While it’s a lot less reported than fitness routines or diets, many of the top sports stars take their amount of sleep very seriously.

Take a look at this article from the Huffington Post which explains how the likes of Roger Federer, Andy Murray, LeBron James and Michelle Wie have at least nine hours sleep every night, otherwise, they feel they cannot function properly the following day.

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One of the most interesting sports star sleep stories involves the most decorated Olympian of all time.

It’s reported that Michael Phelps goes the extra mile at bedtime, sleeping in a chamber which simulates being at an altitude of 8,500 to 9,000 feet. It decreases oxygen, forcing the body to work harder under the circumstances. As a result, blood flow and endurance improve.

Of course, this is a slightly drastic example and something which the average person wouldn’t dream of doing, but it emphasises how important sleep is to the routines of athletes.

10 Sleep Hacks Every Athlete Needs To Know

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For the amateur athlete, getting a proper sleep routine is slightly trickier than it is for a pro athlete who doesn’t have any other commitments. Working a 9-5 job, fitting in plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy diet is tricky enough, before squeezing in eight hours sleep.

Thankfully, SleepyPeople.com has created a really handy infographic which can help anyone who is struggling to balance their healthy lifestyle.

‘10 Sleep Hacks Every Athlete Needs To Know’ offers up some great advice to structuring a healthy routine so that you can fit everyone in, including a great night’s sleep. Take a look below.

athletes-sleep-hacks-1

    Featured photo credit: Sleepy People via sleepypeople.com

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    Last Updated on May 22, 2019

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

    One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

    In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

    Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

    1. Cat Camel Stretch

    Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

    Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

    Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

    Here’s a video to guide you through:

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    2. Go for a Walk or a Run

    This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

    Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

    The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

    Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

    Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

    3. Jumping Jacks

    Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

    Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

    4. Abductor Side Lifts

    Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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    Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

    5. Balancing Table Pose

    This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

    Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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      6. Leg Squats

      Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

      Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

      The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

      7. Push Ups

      You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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      An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

      Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

      This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

      8. Bicycle Crunches

      There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

      Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

      9. Lunges

      Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

      Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

      This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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      10. Bicep Curls

      You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

      Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

      Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

      Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

      Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

      These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

      You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

      Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

      More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

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