The positive effects of napping
Power naps have proven to be beneficial to both traditional athletes and professional gamers who wish to make up for a night of inadequate sleep. To be effective, a power nap should be time from between 20-30 minutes, just before the body enters a phase of deep sleep. Taking a power nap right before a training session can enhance one’s mood, boost alertness and dispel fatigue, while improving cognitive performance.
Likewise, when normal sleeping patterns are disrupted by traveling or sudden changes in everyday routine, taking well-timed power naps can help fill the gap by insufficient nighttime sleep. For most people, a napping after lunch can be reinvigorating and can help overturn an afternoon slump.
Causes of poor sleep
Sleep problems can stem from a variety of reasons. Factors that affect sleep include chronic medical or health issues, as well as unmanaged levels of physical and mental stress that are all known to disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle.
Common medical conditions often associated with sleep problems include heart disease, diabetes, respiratory ailments, musculoskeletal disorders, kidney disease, neurological disorders, thyroid disease, and chronic anxiety, among others.
For individuals who are generally healthy and resilient, there are also environmental factors that may cause poor sleeping habits and affect athletic performance.
In this day and age, one of the most common culprits of poor sleep is the excessive exposure to blue light from digital screens and electronic devices, especially right before bedtime. More than just a probable cause of eye strain, blue light has a stimulating effect that disturbs the body’s circadian rhythm and suppresses the secretion of melatonin. It tricks the brain into thinking that it’s daytime, making it harder to fall asleep.
This becomes a serious consideration among e-sports athletes whose gaming and training schedules are habitually scheduled at night, as their circadian rhythm gets disrupted and tends to create a sleep disturbance.
Strategies to improve sleep
Professional gamers need to be physically, mentally, and emotionally fit to attain maximum levels of performance. This makes sleep hygiene a non-negotiable component of their everyday life.
To encourage a good night’s sleep, elite players may consider incorporating these simple measures in their daily — and nightly — routine:
- Create a peaceful, comfortable environment for inducing sleep. Most people prefer sleeping spaces that are cool, dark, and quiet. Go for maximum ease and relaxation.
- Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and devise a “wind down” routine that will signal to your body that it is time to settle down and go to sleep.
- Stop using blue light emitting devices, such as smart phones and laptops, at least 30 minutes before going to bed and keep them away from your bedside.
- Don’t stay awake in bed for more than 15 minutes. If you find yourself tossing and turning, go to another space and engage in a quiet activity such as reading until you feel sleepy.
- Eat clean and nutritious meals throughout the day. Avoid large dinners and try to finish eating at least two hours before bedtime.
- Stop drinking alcohol at least three hours before going to bed and skip caffeinated beverages at least six hours before bedtime.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Try to avoid stressors that can cause worry or anxiety that will keep you up at night. If needed, use sleeping aids such as soothing music, stretching exercises, or meditation techniques that can help you relax and let go of the day.