It was very funny scene watching Nick Kyrgios mockingly fall asleep at the the US Open a few years ago. This was more immaturity and apathy than sleep deprivation but drives home our point none the less on the importance to your energy levels regarding a good nights sleep.
Part 1 of our Immersion Tennis Series for improving your tennis game has to do with getting a good nights sleep.
The most rewarding part of knocking out your tennis workout at such an early hour is the inner satisfaction. The feeling of accomplishment is unmistakable. Our 7am workouts are for early risers. Starting is the hardest part. Surviving the first week of workouts as your body adjusts to the early wake up call will be your first challenge.
The key to all of this though is getting a good night’s sleep. Not the focus on what time you get up in the morning but what time you go to bed and how quickly you can fall asleep once you lie down. Falling asleep in an efficient matter is the most important part as studies reveal reaching and maintaining REM sleep make you feel better when you wake up.
Here are a four tips I’ve been using that help me fall asleep fast so when the 5:45am alarm clock goes off I feel relatively refreshed.
TIP #1: EYES
My last tennis class wraps up between 9:30-45 in the evening typically so one the first things I think about when i get home is get a shower and keep the lights dim. I don’t turn on any overhead lights and keep just enough light so I can function as I shower and drink some water to rehydrate. Depending on how I feel I will also have a light bite to refuel what I burned off the last hour or so of my workout. If I go to bed hungry I can’t sleep.
NASA has done a lot of study on light and your eyes to fool your brain into going to sleep. They even go as far as recommend you connect with your inner Corey Hart and “Wear your sunglasses at night” to ease your brain into a sleep pattern.
Light has a big affect on your brain so I try to not do any computer work or look at my phone since the brightness of the screen awakens your brain. My body is tired but I need to get my mind on the same page as well. There is nothing worse than being exhausted and awake.
TIP #2: SOUND
I tend to watch sports when I get home. I like a recap on a Tennis Channel match or a live NBA game from the West Coast. One thing I started doing is turning off the sound. The crowd energy and commentators are pumping you up as well as the sponsors. Ever notice how the TV gets louder during a commercial? I find the games more enjoyable when you aren’t influenced by the audio and watch it visually. You actually see the performance differently. Especially, professional tennis matches.
I have gone as far as adjusting the brightness on my TV so it isn’t so bright in the evening. I typically, start to dose at this point so you will have to be aware of how this would work for yourself.
TIP #3: TEMPERATURE
This is a big one for me. I sleep better when there is a chill in the air. I like to bundle and have one leg outside of the covers. Scientist have tested this out and recommend this technique. I actually have my thermostat set to turn down in the early evening so when I get home its at the optimal temperature. Now if you are married, have a roommate etc this can be a tricky topic as everyone has their favorite temperatures! My optimal temperature is 71 Fahrenheit (22 Celsius). Sleep.org has some great tips on air temperature as well as a sock tip for your feet that I use.
TIP #4: BREATHING
This is a great breathing tip I got from a friend. Meditating your heart to a lower beats per minute is crucial to falling asleep. If you have a FitBit you can actually monitor your Beats Per Minute and track your sleep data to follow your sleep patterns. To help yourself fall asleep try this exercise:
I’ve utilized this technique frequently and typically fall asleep and don’t remembers finishing the exercise!
So if you are having trouble sleeping try out these four tips to get your body on track. Be patient as your won’t be perfect. Over time you can build up your habits and start to feel your energy levels increase on the tennis court.
If you are considering our immersion program for avid players we call: Accelerator Tennis. Your biggest challenge will be waking up during the first week of morning workouts. But the good news is the more you do it the easier it gets during week two and three especially as your develop the mastery of falling asleep.
Brian “Zzzzzz” Lutz
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