COLIN EXPLAINS THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP ON HIS HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE
When the kids go to bed, that’s my bedtime too!
You might not believe that I share the same bedtime as my 10 and 11 year old boys but sleep is one of my key priorities.
Just like diet, exercise and driving, getting enough good sleep is an essential part of my preparation. Anyone seeking high performance will tell you the same thing, but what they may not tell you is just how difficult that proves to be.
After a test day or race day, you can bet that my adrenaline levels are pretty high. I even find social environments like restaurants pretty stimulating, so switching off after a busy day of thinking and driving has always been a challenge for me. Add to that, the fact you’re most likely in a hotel bed, with unknown neighbours and with an early alarm set. It’s no wonder that sleep can easily be disrupted or hard to achieve on race weekends and when away from home. That’s why I try to ensure I get plenty of good sleep in the bank all the time. I’ve tried to list a few benefits that good sleep gives me:
- Improved concentration and attention levels
- Reduced stress levels
- Better mood
- Clarity of mind
- Improved energy levels
- Improved immune system
- Improved performance
- Enhanced productivity
- Better memory function
The list goes on, but to cut a long story short, it’s no surprise that athletes and other high-performance individuals prioritise sleep in their life. There are so many gains up for grabs. The flip side of ‘good’ sleep is ‘bad’ sleep which will easily achieve the opposite of all those benefits listed above. BTCC race weekends are extremely challenging at the best of times so I really don’t want any of those on race day.
I’ve tried everything under the sun and screwed up equally as many times, so here is my fools guide to better sleep.
No matter what kind of day you’ve had, it’s important to wind down from any stimulating environments and try to bring some peace and calm into your evening. Following a good evening routine is helpful with this. A bath is also a great way to wind down and let your body know the day is over. You’re aiming to switch off your brain and begin that ‘bedtime’ process. I do my best to stay off all devices in the evening and that includes iphones, ipads and any social media.
CAREFUL WITH THE CAFFINE
It may sound pretty simple, but if you want a good night’s sleep you need to avoid anything that will fire you up. Things like tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, sugary foods and alcohol are obvious but some medicines have simulants in there that can actually ruin a night for you too. I avoid anything that might impact my sleep from early afternoon.
READING IN BED
Having a book or even the newspaper handy at night is never a bad idea. It’s great for switching your mind off work and getting tired enough to actually sleep.
BLUE LIGHT GLASSES
These glasses are a must-have-accessory in our house. You can get them online as cheap as chips and really do help with the glaring light from device screens or the tv.
BLACK OUT BLINDS
I carry a few sets of suction black out blinds with me wherever I stay. We got these originally when the kids were babies but have continued to buy them for travelling for all of us. Our bedrooms at home are all completely blacked out, which helps so much with getting those few extra hours kip in the morning in the summer months. Good quality ear plugs also come in handy when staying in hotels for obvious reasons!
This is something I’ve had to do more with age! If you want a good solid block of sleep, you won’t want to be woken up with an urge to go to the toilet! I reduce the amount of liquid I take in the evenings, and am even careful with the food I eat. Some foods have a high-water content especially if you steam them.
This is the easiest step to get better quality sleep. I used to just need help with sleep during the season, but these days I take some herbal help every night. What started with simple lavender oils and aromas soon became trial and error with every sleep product on the market. In 2019 I finally found a potion that has significantly enhanced my sleep quality – Nordiq Nutrition’s Night Complex. I can take this ahead of any big event and won’t feel groggy the next day.
Next time I’ll be talking about ENERGY, how to preserve it and how to have more!Back to news