On 10:11 AM by NY Drs. Urgent Care
To continue on with the theme of the Olympics, we will write about athletes and what they need to perform better. Something as easy Sleep will help an athlete perform their best.

Training programs, and schedules will automatically have rest days build into them, and athletes often just know when they need to take a few easy days to recover. However, many athletes, and even their coaches, fail to recognize that quality sleep is just as big a part of the recovery process as taking some easy training days.

Studies have shown that even a small amount of sleep deprivation can decrease athletic performance. The reasons for this are not clear, but research points to the role of glucose metabolism and cortisol (a stress hormone) production as a major factor.

Studies on sleep deprivation have found that sleep deprived athletes don't metabolize glucose very efficiently, and have higher levels of cortisol, which has been linked to memory impairment, age-related insulin resistance, and impaired recovery. Another potential problem of poor sleep is lowered levels of the hormone leptin, which play a role in regulating hunger as well as storing body fat.

Here are recommendations to maximize your sleep quality:

Keep It Dark. Using light-tight blinds, shades and window covering helps set the right environment for sleep. Ambient light can be a distraction and can interfere with a solid night's sleep.

Keep It Cool. Lowering the thermostat in your bedroom to 65 to 68 degrees can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. 

Keep It Quiet. Nothing can cause more sleep disturbance than noise. If you live in a noisy location--near traffic, airports, or have noisy neighbors--invest in some earplugs to create your own silent night. 

Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is ideal for athletes. A regular schedule makes your training routine more consistent and regular. If you sleep and wake at the same time, your body can adapt to a regular training and nutrition plan as well. Research shows that a regular sleep habit includes a 10 p.m. bedtime and a 6 a.m. wake up time.
Limit Caffeine Intake. Cutting down on caffeine can improve not only your quality of sleep, but can help you fall asleep faster. For most people, drinking highly caffeinated drinks in the late afternoon or evening will impair sleep. Caffeine consumption raises the levels of hormones called catecholamines. These hormones act as central nervous system stimulants that increase endurance, heart rate, and blood vessel constriction. This is one reason athletes often consume caffeine prior to competition or training.
Unplug. It's a good idea to turn off all electrics about an hour (or more) before bed. Getting rid of stimulation--including the television, loud music, commercials, computer screens and other distractions--helps your mind relax. Additionally, those electronics emit artificial light that tricks your body into thinking it's daylight, and stops the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Cut Down on Alcohol. Alcohol is linked with a decrease in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycles, as well as a delayed sleep onset. Many people recognize that alcohol often causes shallow sleep, frequent waking, tossing and turning.
Get Daily Exercise. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day is linked with better sleep quality at night. Even on a rest day, 30 minutes of easy physical activity, such as walking or just stretching, can help you fall asleep faster. Some people report that exercising before bed makes them too energized and alert, so the experts recommend allowing about 6 hours of time between your exercise session and your bed time.