RaceThread.com: 5 Tips for Getting Sufficient Sleep Before a Big Race

5 Tips for Getting Sufficient Sleep Before a Big Race

November 22nd, 2016

by Michael Ryan


Every runner yearns for a perfect eight hours of sleep the night before a big race. However, with the pressure of competing and winning the race, it is often easier said than done. When tossing and turning becomes the norm before a big event, it’s time for athletes to take concrete steps to get sufficient sleep before a big race. The problem often lies in your evening and bedtime routines. Try skipping your usual mid afternoon dose of caffeine or improve your evenings with a jog or some stretching. 
If you think alcohol makes you sleep better, think again. Studies reveal regular intake of alcohol eventually disrupts deep sleep patterns. Even though most runners have confessed to getting drunk the night prior to a big race, it is important you avoid alcohol as well as overly fatty foods for good digestion. 


In fact, consuming a carb enriched snack, such as a bowl of cereal, an hour before going to bed will do you better to ensure proper sleep before race. Dimming the lights, reading a book by your favorite author or sticking to a routine will relax your body for and signal the right messages for switching it to sleeping mode.  

Here are 5 effective tips for getting sufficient sleep before race.

1.     Avoid Screens

Let’s face it. We all are addicted to screens, whether it’s the TV or the highly addictive phone. Put that tablet away as too much brain activity sends mixed signals to your body. Ideally, there should be no light in the room except for a dim light source. Light from a screen is believed to suppress melatonin production, making it harder for you to fall asleep naturally. All texts and updates can wait.

2.     Stick to Your Bedtime Routine

When you have an exciting race the next day, it is natural to be thrilled about it the night before. However, make sure you follow the same routine you do every day before going to bed. Prepare your bedroom by closing the curtains, turning on the alarm clock and adjusting the temperature. Avoid bright lights and create a cozy space to get a good night’s sleep.


It always helps to start bedtime way before the actual time you go to sleep. Successful people stick to a routine that they religiously follow before bedtime approaches. This may include anything, from reading a book to brushing your teeth, or making arrangements for the next day.

3.     Do Some Stretching

It is ok to feel stressed out and a bit tense before a big race. While a complete workout can charge you up, simple stretching can soothe stiff muscles and loosen you up. Try some effective stretching poses for relaxing your nerves and muscles. If stretching isn’t your thing, invest some time and effort in something that makes you feel relaxed. Call a friend who makes you laugh to lighten up your mood or listen to jazz or easy listening music.

4.     Stay Away From ‘What If’ Questions

Important events, such as a big race, raise many questions. Some of these begin with the infamous ‘what if?’ This causes you to become anxious of what’s going to happen during the race. The more time you waste asking these questions to yourself, the less likely you are able to sleep on time. But remember, a night's sleep will not break or make a race.

Experienced athletes reveal that one of the least appropriate times to think about a race is the night before. Remind yourself you have done everything you can to prepare yourself for the big day. Nobody can predict who’s going to win the race. It is also hard to fall asleep if you haven’t assembled the gear you need for the next day. Choose your outfit and even plan what you will have for breakfast to charge you up. Knowing that you have done everything to be prepared for the big race will help you sleep before race.   

5.     Visualize Success

Racers are good at visualizing themselves winning a race, with crowds cheering for them in the backgrounds. If pre-race jitters are keeping you up at night, picture how it will feel to win the race. Envision a vivid picture of yourself crossing the finishing line. Sometimes, picturing yourself as a winner is just what you need to calm your nerves and motivate yourself for a big race.


If you find yourself awake at 3 a.m. even after following these tips, do something that pleases you. Brew a cup of chamomile tea or something you love doing. Staying in bed wondering about past failures and future aspirations will certainly not help you to get a good night’s sleep. Engage yourself in a positive activity for easily falling asleep.

By following these tips, you can not only get sufficient sleep before race but also boost your chances of success. You will be able to give your 100%. Don’t forget to have fun!

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