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June 01, 2015

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You know that getting eight hours of sleep a night is good for you. But factor in a working day, a bit of training or riding, an hour or two travelling, an hour eating and changing, dashing around as the kids'€™ taxi service, and a couple of hours of just being and -€“ well, you do the maths. Struggling to make it add up?

The obvious way to cram more into your day is to snip off bits of the night. Earlier mornings, pushing lights-out later, and bingo, you're squashing everything in. But this might not be quite the brilliant€™ solution you think it is.

Your mind is racing so you'€™re tossing and turning half the night. Your legs feel like lead. You're drinking double espressos to get through the afternoon. And that big fat sugary doughnut suddenly looks like the best breakfast on earth. That'€™ll be the fatigue setting in...

The latest research shows getting enough sleep is essential for optimum performance and that sleep deprivation plays with your mind as well as your body. So here'€™s why hitting the hay is so important for hitting your race targets€“ and what you can do to make sure you get enough vitamin Zzz.

Learn how to get a good night's sleep and you won't feel as tired during the day

€œRegular, good-quality sleep is essential for your body's physical repair process, but also for your mental health and agility,€ says Dr Guy Meadows, sleep and sports scientist, and cross-channel swimmer.

How to join the sound asleep club

  • A dark room, at a cool temperature, with a decent mattress, and not a lot of noise
  • A bedtime routine that includes unwinding before sleep
  • Switch off the TV and computer a couple of hours before bedtime
  • Wait three hours after food before sleep
    • Research shows large, and high-fat meals late in the evening affect sleep quality
    • Avoid caffeine (from tea, coffee, cola and chocolate) from the afternoon onwards
    • Foods rich in tryptophan, combined with healthy carbs, can help sleep, as your body uses it to create sleep-inducing serotonin and melatonin, and the carbs deliver it to the brain. Tryptophan-rich foods include pulses, turkey, eggs, sunflower seeds, miso, unsweetened soy milk and dairy products.

       

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