Sleep Like an Athlete

I do not have to convince anyone that a good night’s sleep will help you achieve good health. The problem? How to build those seven to eight hours a day into your lifestyle. The secret to keeping your weight down and staying heart healthy may be in training like an athlete and keeping to a sleep schedule.
You wouldn't think athletes have a problem with their health. After all, aren’t they already eating lots of healthy food and burning lots of calories? The answer is sleep deprivation. Lack of rest causes the body to reduce the amount of glycogen storage, which is needed for added performance; a sleep-deprived brain cannot make split-second decisions; and hormonal changes – such as an increase amount of cortisol – in a person with poor rest can slow down healing and growth of new tissue.
So how should an athlete — or anyone searching for better health —sleep? According to a 2011 study conducted by Stanford University, athletes who kept a sleep schedule actually performed better in their sport.
Here are four tips for better, more restorative sleep:

  1. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  2. When you travel, give your body time to acclimate to your new time zone.
  3. Try to stay away from sleep medication unless prescribed by a doctor; rather, use meditation and deep breathing techniques to relax.
  4. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol before a big day.

Anyone can make these easy life adjustments and receive a big payoff to their health!

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Robin Rood
Robin Rood, RD, LD, MEd, MA, writes about nutrition as a local expert for in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and blogs at