December is the busiest month of the year for many Minnesotan families. With the holidays and hockey season getting into high gear, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep for parents and players alike.
But in order to perform your best in school, on the ice or off, sleep is crucial. These easy tips can help you improve your sleeping habits this hockey season. Try adding a couple of these ideas to your night:
Create a relaxation ritual: Taking a hot bath relaxes your body and the cool shock of stepping out of the bath mimics the natural drop in body temperature caused by the brain as it readies the body for sleep. Stretching, Yoga and meditation all have been shown to slow your breathing and heart rate to help you sleep sooner. Try journaling to put your mind at ease and ready yourself for the following day. Use an essential oil like lavender to help put you in a relaxing mood. Recap the day and visualize tomorrow’s day so there is nothing worrying you through the night.
Design your room for optimal sleep: Use blackout curtains to keep any outside light out. Keep a cold room 60-68 degrees. Eliminate electronic lights or clocks and turn your phone off. Use consistent white noise like a fan to help eliminate any other surrounding noises. Paint your room a relaxing color like sage or earthy tones. Finally ditch the night light, even for when you have to use the bathroom at night.
Eat a light snack: Try foods that are higher in tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that triggers serotonin, which helps with sleepiness and a proper sleep cycle. Try a handful of nuts, poultry, dairy, cheese, and egg whites. Avoid sugar and starches; these will create a restless sleep later in the night.
Avoid watching TV or using devices an hour before bed: Screens emit the same type of light that the sun gives off. This may be good for during the day but at night your body is getting the wrong signals. Reserve an hour before bed that you are not receiving any artificial light sources. If you must work late into the night you can download f.lux. f.lux is software that makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
Try to get up and go to bed at the same time every day: Creating a waking and sleeping habit naturally puts your cycles into a rhythm. This will make it very easy to fall asleep sooner in the night. First thing in the morning try and get out in the natural light to awaken and alert yourself, this will help you get to bed earlier at night. If you rise before the sun comes up try taking a Vitamin D supplement (10,000 units) this will replicate 15 minutes of bright sunlight.
There are supplements that can help the quality of your sleep. Always try to use the safest supplements with the least effective dose, and use natural products.
ZMA– (Zinc Magnesium Aspartate) are minerals that is often used as a recovery aid; most notably, studies show that ZMA helps the body achieve deeper levels of REM sleep
Liquid Melatonin– A Natural sleep aid that is synthesized in animal cells directly from the amino acid tryptophan.
GABA– The neurotransmitter GABA, is the brain’s peacemaker. Taking it helps turn off excess adrenalin and calms you down.