So the night before major competitions has come, and you are lying in bed with your eyes closed and staring at the cosmic darkness of closed eyelids, you think, you panic, and then, many more times, you think and think. – Am I well prepared? – Have I trained enough? – Oh, sorry, then I missed those couple of days while I was sick. – But my opponent does not seem to take a steam bath at all, and in general he was in perfect order in today’s final heats. – A faucet is dripping somewhere. – Someone is walking on the floor. – Is this our coach or something like that snoring four floors below?
Preparing for competitions for months, putting all our strength into one single and most important swim with lifeguard class, we often wind ourselves up with empty self-digging, in which we stupidly fill our poor head with very diverse thoughts, from the feeling of water that seems to us somehow not so unfamiliar pool, to a rigorous analysis of the quality of shaving before the start. All these absolutely unnecessary nerves invigorate no worse than a stun gun, keeping us awake until late at night and forcing us to look every minute at the luminous dial of an electronic clock, which reminds us every time: “Sleep! Go to sleep! If you pass out right now, you can still get X hours of sleep.” Here are 5 rules you can follow to fall asleep a little faster:
No gadgets .
Every time you scroll through the social media feeds on your smartphone or tablet while lying in bed, your body receives conflicting signals from the brain that confuse and confuse it, plunging the poor fellow into shock. Judge for yourself. On the one hand, the day has come to an end, you are tired, the lights are off, and it is logical that now all the energy systems of the body are ready to switch to energy-saving mode, relax and have a good rest. On the other hand, you shine a bright LCD screen in your face, the body is shocked and does not understand where the light comes from, because it is night outside, it is dark everywhere, and it’s time to sleep. All this stops the production of melatonin in the body, which in turn prevents you from falling asleep. Of course, throwing a couple of hilarious memes at your best teammate is a sacred thing that is almost impossible to refuse, but remember,
Get yourself a “Sleep Ritual” .
Or, to put it more simply, a short list of simple things that you will do every time before you go to bed. Think of your sleep ritual as a countdown to turning off your car or computer. Long before the general meeting, make it a habit to do 4-5 simple operations before you move to bed. Such a ritual will help you prepare your body for sleep as best as possible, and is also very useful in conditions when you are deprived of the comforts of home and are forced to sleep in a new environment.
All this is done in order to give familiarity to an unfamiliar and alien environment for you. Here is an example of a short list of the most common things that can be included in your sleep ritual:
- Brush your teeth;
- Pack a bag for tomorrow;
- Set an alarm;
- Read a book, no more than 10 minutes;
- Take a couple of sips of water;
- Turn off the light;
- Give thanks for everything that happens;
- Visualize your main goal.
- Write everything that worries you on paper .
I know how hard it is to calm my own brain the night before an important competition. Thoughts lead you into a jungle of thoughts about how you feel, what you did in the last training session, and how you even managed to get so far in this tournament. The easiest way to stop this pulsating fountain of endless self-talk is to write down everything that worries you on paper before you go to bed. Take a few minutes of your time and write down everything that you are worried about on a piece of paper, fold it and close it in a drawer, or, in general, take it to another room. By doing so, you will most likely receive tremendous moral relief and at the same time unload your brain.
Relax, more precisely, stretch .
If you feel internal tension, and your muscles are stiff and tight, the simplest stretching exercises will help you relax. It is always much easier to fall asleep when you are relaxed, and a short stretch will help your muscles recover better after today’s competition. If stretching isn’t your forte, choose a couple of other activities that will help you relax as much as possible before bed. For example, reading.
Plan your success by making your bed .
Mark Tewksbury, Canadian swimmer, 1992 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter backstroke, carried his own pillow everywhere. Prepare ahead of time and bring your favorite pillow or blanket. Bring a fan with you if you know the hotel doesn’t have air conditioning and you like to sleep cool. You, like no one else, know exactly how you like to sleep, how to hide and what exactly will allow you to completely relax and recover in order to then perform at 150%.