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UK Coaching Team
Safety and Welfare Self-care and development

Understanding Sleep Environment and Sleep Hygiene

Key insight into the factors that can influence a bad night’s sleep and how to tackle them, developed in partnership with Deputy CEO Lisa Artis of The Sleep Charity


Often, sleep is underestimated, and thought of as simply part of our life routine. It’s only when we start to have an issue that we begin to look at our sleep patterns.

Alongside diet and exercise, sleep is the third pillar of health.

There are so many things that can impact sleep, including:

  • performance
  • behaviours
  • emotions
  • memory
  • mental health.

Further, if you don’t recognise and tackle an ongoing pattern of ‘bad’ sleep, it can become a vicious cycle and even contribute to a long-term health condition.

How to get better sleep

One of the most used pieces of advice is not to over-think it.

Situations that can make this difficult include:

  • a big competition coming up
  • the start of pre-season training
  • a disappointing training season.

Any of these things can start a cycle of ‘bad’ sleep.

Importantly, it’s not uncommon to have a few bad night’s sleep when something important is on the horizon, but most people will then slip back into their normal sleep pattern. It is when it becomes a regular issue that you need to start looking at the hygiene and environment of your sleep.  

Unfortunately, the longer you leave it the harder it is to nip it in the bud, so you need to be proactive to ensure that 1-2 weeks of bad night’s sleep don’t become a long-term thing.

Understanding sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to the quality, quantity, and timing of your sleep. It’s sometimes also referred to as ‘sleep best practice.’

There are things that you can do over a 24-hour period leading up to sleep that will improve your sleep hygiene.

To improve your sleep, consider:

Finding a relaxing activity that works for you. This involves putting aside coaching plans!

Possibilities include:

  • watching something lighthearted on television
  • reading a book
  • listening to music
  • having a bath.

The ‘golden hour’ before bed.

It's a good idea to:

  • set some expectations before going to sleep
  • switch off blue light from your devices
  • turn off notifications
  • potentially also set a boundary of time not using your devices.

Paying attention to what you're eating before bed.

Key points:

  • Calcium snacks are good.
  • It’s best to avoid food with high sugar content and caffeine.
  • If you’re hungry, try to eat something satiating but that won’t leave you too full.
  • You don’t want to be too full or too hungry!

Thinking about your bedroom environment.

Ask yourself:

  • Is it conducive to good sleep?
  • Is it calming?

Turning it into a cool, quiet, dark, clutter-free space can be beneficial.

It’s also important to ensure that you have a comfortable bed.

More Content on Sleep

This is the first in a four-part series on sleep. Part two contains advice developed with The Sleep Charity to help you improve your sleeping habits and tackle cycles of bad sleep


Related Resources

  • Sleep Factors to Build into a Healthy Plan for your Athletes

  • Sleep on it: The Science Behind a High-Performance Kip

  • Understanding the Stress Model


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