Making the most of your sleep time when on the road

Cricket Australia dietitian Benita Lalor gives us some handy advice for making the most of sleep time when you're on the road. 

Playing cricket at the highest level involves international and domestic travel, nights slept in different hotels and extended periods on the road travelling to play.  For the players, getting enough sleep is an essential part of their preparation and recovery.  

We all need a good sleep to perform at our best – sleep is the time when our body and brains take time to recover.  Getting enough, good quality sleep is one of the best recovery strategies available to athletes.  Optimising sleep can assist with immune function, mood, appetite regulation, decision making and even can influence how your body uses and stores energy.

Here are a few things that our players put in place to improve their sleep quality and quantity when they are on the road.

Cool, Dark and Quiet

Create the perfect environment for a good nights sleep.  Set your hotel room air conditioning between 19-21 degrees when you check in. Consider travelling with an eye mask to ensure room is dark.

Switching Off

Turning off or minimising the use of electronic devices (iPads, laptops, phones and the tv) in the hour before you plan to go to sleep.  The blue light from these devices can supress melatonin levels, which can make getting to sleep difficult.

Turn down the lights

Hotel rooms can be bright. These bright lights can also supress your melatonin levels, making falling asleep difficult.   Players often spend time in their hotel room winding down after a match and are encouraged to turn down the lights in their room in preparation for sleep.

Consistent Bed and Wake Up Time

Establish a bedtime routine. Aim to get to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time each day.  Aim for at least eight hours of sleep each night.

This can be hard for the players when on the road or when playing matches at night.  Coaches and support staff often plan the schedule to ensure players obtain enough sleep and keep a consistent wake time where possible.

Nap Zone

Players may add a nap into their routine to help them top up’ on sleep after a night match or travel.  When planning a nap, try to fit this in before 3pm and for no longer than an hour.  It might be a good idea to set an alarm.  Remember a nap does not substitute for a good nights sleep.

Evaluate your caffeine intake

We know the benefits of caffeine and performance.  However, caffeine may also inhibit your ability to fall asleep. Aim to have your last coffee/caffienated drink at least four hours before you plan to to bed.

Limit your alcohol consumption

It might feel like a few drinks may help you get to sleep but consuming alcohol disrupts the quality of sleep you get, which is vital for mental and physical recovery.

So what can you add to your routine to get more shut eye?

About Benita Lalor
Benita is an accredited sports dietitian with a interest in nutrition, recovery and sleep and its role in the physical preparation of elite athletes. She has worked for a range of professional teams, national sporting organisations, Olympic sporting teams and has completed a fellowship at the Australian Institute of Sport. She currently works for Cricket Australia.