Sweet Sweet Sleep


Angela MacRitchie, Naturopath and Nutritionist

Quality sleep can be a powerful performance enhancer, while lack of sleep can cause injury and lack of focus. Whether you are at the top of your sport or if you are just doing it for fun, getting enough sleep can have a massive impact on delivering the best performance. Here Angela MacRitchie a naturopath and nutritionist gives us some top tips on how to get our active girls the best sleep.

When we exercise, the body depletes energy, fluids and breaks down muscle. The food we eat and the right hydration are only part of training and recovery. What you do after training determines how quickly your body can rebuild muscle and replenish nutrients to maintain endurance and accuracy.

Lack of sleep has been shown to increase the stress hormone cortisol. Too little sleep decreases glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy. Less sleep increases the chances of low energy and poor focus when you need it most.  

Here are a few tips to help with Sleep that will improve endurance during training:  

Reduce screen time in the evening: Technology can have a detrimental impact on sleep. Screens emit a blue light that is very similar to the light emitted outdoors in the day, so the brain thinks it’s daytime and doesn’t produce any melatonin.  

Keep to a sleep routine: Training often interferes with evening routines, but keeping a consistent bedtime and waking schedule, where possible including at the week-end, can really help.

Let there be dark: Sleep as close to complete darkness as possible. A tiny bit of light can disrupt your internal clock and the pineal glands melatonin and serotonin production. Use blackout blinds or curtains, close your bedroom door and avoid night lights.

 Bedtime calm: Unwind and create a relaxing bedtime routine. Take a hot bath an hour and a half before bed as the body temperature drops signalling to the body that it is ready for sleep. Read a book or listen to some calming music.

 Let the digestion rest: Avoid heavy, spicy or sugary foods and caffeine several hours before bedtime allowing the body plenty of time to digest.  The digestive system will then be more relaxed otherwise this can lead to disrupted or poor sleep during the night.

 Optimal sleep temperature: Most people keep their homes too warm. Studies show the best temperature is between 15 – 20 degrees C. The internal body temperature drops to its lowest after 4 hours of sleeping, therefore a cooler bedroom mimics the body’s natural temperature drop.

 Angela is a Naturopath, Nutritionist and Complementary Therapist at Essence of the Soul.