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Blog Feature

By: Brendan Duffy on July 9th, 2015

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Winners and Losers: Food for Thought, Sleep and Athletic Success!

Sleep Medicine


How do athletes keep themselves at peak performance?

When it comes to athletes, the need for both sleep, and proper nutrition to promote good sleep, are very important for their success on the field or court. Too much sugar, alcohol, or nicotine can hinder the hard work and training that the athlete takes part in during their training day.

Since it is widely believed that the purpose of sleep to ”repair and prepare”- as in -repair and recover from the previous wakefulness period, and prepare for the upcoming wake period.  In athletic jargon, this would translate into repairing your mind and body from the workouts, practices, and competition. Sleep also will prepare you for the next wake period challenges of training, pre-game planning, traveling, or games!

Part of this preparation is preparing for the sleep period of training.

And Yes! Sleep is an important part of any athletic training program. Just like other parts of your training; it requires scheduling and attention to detail.  Part of the details include what you should eat –and avoid eating - prior to sleep.

What are the winning choices?

Winning choices include dairy products, which include tryptophan, a sleep-inducing agent.  Other good tryptophan containing food choices are bananas, eggs, and nuts.  Combining these with carbohydrate choices such as cereal or crackers makes a good bedtime choice!

Then, what are the losing choices?

Losing choices would include alcohol, which fragments sleep, and caffeine, which is found in chocolate, tea, and even in decaf coffee! A good rule of thumb for athletes’ concerned about sleep hygiene is to avoid caffeine about 6 hours prior to bedtime.

Also avoid spicy, rich and heavy meals prior to bedtime as they are difficult to digest and can cause problems during your “sleep training” period. Foods that are protein rich and high in fat are not a good choice for the athlete – or for anyone who wishes for a good sleep period.

Also keep in mind...

Try to cut fluids if you find it causes you to have to go to the bathroom often during the night also.  And of course, nicotine will neither enhance your sleep nor your athletic performance. If you smoke, or chew tobacco, you need to eliminate this from your daily life.  It will sabotage your training and sleep.  Nicotine is a stimulant and it may cause you to wake up early once the nicotine level drops and the urge hits you in the morning to have a smoke or chew!

So train for success in whatever sport you play and don’t forget that sleep is part of your training! Eat for successful sleep!

Sleep Well! Win More!

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