Going for the gold medal… in sleeping

Going for the gold medal… in sleeping

Olympic athletes train hard, but they also make sure to take time to rest. Getting a good night’s sleep helps muscles recover and keeps athletes performing at their very best. Here’s what they have said and what we can learn from their sleep habits.

  1. Gabby Douglas: Make time to wind down

Gabby Douglas, 20 years old, competing in her second Olympics, makes plenty of time to exercise good sleep habits.  For Douglas, this includes spending time winding down at night.

Meditating is one technique she uses to clear her mind. “I curl up in my bed to meditate, which helps me learn to clear my mind and puts me in a good place mentally and spiritually,” she told Cosmopolitan earlier this year, when describing a typical day of training.

One study found that regular doses of meditation may prevent work-related stress and burnout. Dr. Wayne Rubinstein, a sleep medicine specialist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, suggests saving at least 20 minutes for a pre-bedtime ritual which can include reading, meditation, or other relaxation techniques. “Generally, it is best to do this prior to getting into bed for the night,” says Dr. Rubinstein.

  1. Phil Dalhausser: Add a nap

Phil Dalhausser explains it’s often difficult to sleep being on the road for competitions. Dalhuasser likes to go to bed around 11 p.m. and wake up at 8 a.m., he told Van Winkle’s. But when that doesn’t happen, he says his brain feels foggy, so he takes a nap.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a short 20-30 minute nap can improve one’s mood, alertness and performance.

Naps may be divided by three different categories including:

  • Planned napping, a technique used when napping needs to be scheduled when planning to stay up later than usual to prevent getting tired later.
  • Emergency napping, when one is suddenly tired, which is preventing them from continuing an activity. This napping technique is best used to combat drowsiness while driving or extreme tiredness while using heavy and dangerous machinery.
  • Habitual napping, practiced when a person takes a nap the same time every day.
  1. Sandi Morris: Don’t stress

“An Olympian’s thoughts are constantly filled with nerves and excitement that may interfere with one’s sleep” Sandi Morris, 24 year-old USA pole vaulter, told the Huffington Post.

To get a proper night’s rest, she does exactly what experts suggest–she doesn’t stress.

“I always push it out of my mind and imagine the ocean,” she explained to Huffington Post.  “I think of deep whooshing sounds of waves hitting the shore, and if I can hold off thoughts of vaulting, I eventually fall asleep.”

Dr. Rubinstein also suggests exercising daily, at least three hours before bed, and eliminating nicotine and caffeine.  Maintaining a regular schedule for when you go to bed and when you wake up creates a healthy habit. He says one tip to release stressors is to write them down along with ways to solve each problem.

  1. Sam Ojserkis Coxswain: Repeat, repeat, repeat

Sam Ojserkis Coxswain of the USA rowing team uses consistency for his Olympic training.

“Wake up at 5 a.m. Eat. Row. Eat. Row. Eat. And hit the sheets again by 8 p.m.,” the 26 year old told The Press of Atlantic City.

Routines for everyday are essential for a healthy lifestyle; they may also increase one’s quality of sleep.

Dr. Rubinstein suggests:

  • Sticking to a schedule that allows time to relax before bed without interruptions.
  • Using an app to monitor sleep progress.
  • Keeping a sleep log to track and improve sleep quality.
  1. Madison Hughes: Go to bed on time

For Madison Hughes, captain of the USA Rugby Men’s Eagles Sevens, his secret to good sleep is going to bed on time and being sure to get enough sleep.

“It’s about being disciplined and saying ‘Okay-I know that I need to do this,’” he told the Huffington Post.  “And say, ‘I need to go to bed at this certain time because that’s going to allow me to get the sleep I need that’s going to allow me to perform at my best.’”

Dr. Rubinstein recommends that you create a peaceful and dark environment to help you get a good night’s sleep. “Resist using electronics, such as your phone or tablet, before bed, and don’t have the TV on.”

Talk to your primary care physician and consider seeing a sleep doctor if you are still unable to achieve the sleep you need.

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  1. Dean – I thought that you might mind this interesting – Love, Dad

  2. Healthy Wanna Be August 18, 2016 at 7:22 pm · Reply

    We’ll written article that does NOT put me to sleep. Good tips too!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.