Rituals are all around us, even for runners. Like a repetitive mantra that soothes the mind, there are pre-sleep rituals that aid recovery after a demanding run, albeit with more scientific reasoning. Here are some of them you can try if you find yourself running out of recovery options.
It is no secret that the body needs a consistent sleep cycle to recover to tiptop shape. Medical experts have also discovered that your organs slow down at different intervals during the day.
For instance, your lungs’ maintenance hours are from 3 to 5 a.m. in the morning. Therefore, try to prepare your body for sleep at a fixed time; this gives it that stability to repair itself.
A Peaceful Sanctuary
Essentially, the idea is to make your bedroom as comfortable and sleep-conducive as possible. It should be dark, quiet, and cool — no unnecessary lights from phones and other electronic devices, no whirring computers, and none of the excess heat that it produces. That also means no more late night K-dramas or another episode of Game of Thrones. Just enjoy the silence of the night and your inviting sheets.
Interestingly, there is a study on tart cherry juice that notes its natural melatonin-boosting properties which in turn leads to a longer and more efficient sleep. If that is not your cup of tea, there are more common and widely embraced options, such as the ever-trusty chamomile tea, or even a warm glass of milk. Helpful word of advice: consume your beverage at least 30 minutes before turning in, this allows its benefits to take effect.
Also, while alcohol makes you sleepy, it also affects your sleep quality. You’ll do best to avoid it. In a nutshell, avoid beverages that zap your sleep quality such as yes, the Singaporeans’ favourite Kopi-O, and go for more ‘atas’ beverages that enhance your sleep quality instead.
"The Placebo effect, for some, helps give them a certain assurance and calmness before the proverbial storm."
Stretching and Foam Rolling
Both are categorised together because of a similar end product, which is to loosen your muscles for a more relaxing sleep.
While stretching gives you that ecstatic high when your muscles hit their stretch limits, foam rolling is more like a substitute for a massage therapy session, where myofascial adhesions are broken up. It is certainly a cheaper alternative for runners who prefer to keep things simple and on a budget.
Most of us have fallen victim to our brains over-thinking at inappropriate times, say...right before we go to bed. We then spend the following hours fretting over our plans for the day ahead.
A good way to tackle this is to stay organised and to leave nothing to chance, that is, to keep a physical to-do list, so you do not have to commit everything to memory. Pack your things in advance, so everything is there to grab when you need it.
This also improves your overall discipline, especially when you are trying to maintain a stable sleep pattern. Each pointer, as you will have noticed, share a common objective: to take away any form of unnecessary stress and tension that will in one way or another, interrupt your sleep.
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