By this point, many know the benefits of sleep including better athletic performance and sense of well-being -but remain sleep deprived. However, there are fewer discussions on using sleep for motivation and as a tactical asset in our athletic performances. This post will offer three tips to build your restorative sleep into a performance enhancing tool -using lucid dreams.
A 2011 study on collegiate basketball performance found that extending sleep increases sprint speed and shooting accuracy. Each athlete slept 10 hours or more for the enhanced results. This raises the question if the nightly routine of an athlete should be different than the average person.
When considering the average person, sleep hygiene includes keeping generally the same sleep schedule, such as heading to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m. everyday, including weekends. No eating, working, or using electronics like smartphones in bed.
With smart gadgets, people continue to work late into the night, making them less productive during the day due to diminished sleep. Therefore, sleep researchers say the bed should only be for sleep and sexual activity as excessive time in bed reduces overall sleep quality.
They also state that any strenuous activity, such as exercising, thinking while you’re worried, watching crime dramas or slasher films, and eating, should be done earlier in the day, preferably in the morning or hours before you hit your sleep zone. Why? For some individuals, these activities require a cool down period for the bio-chemical or emotional residue to subside. Another huge issue is caffeine. Some research suggest no caffeine after noon. More details can be found at the National Sleep Foundation.
The athlete, on the other hand, has different physical and performance requirements. When trying to determine the best time of day for peak performances, the evening is often cited. Researchers believe the increased temperature body in the evening affects performance, although little is said about how evening performance affects sleep quality.
So what are lucid dreams and how can they help your training? First, trending research defines lucid dreams as more of a dream state. It is when a person gains awareness and sometimes control over their dream state. Once one gains control, it's an opportunity to pack in extra training while resting. Is it as effective as a waking-life practice?
The Harvard Business Review states no. However, it is better than no practice at all when it came to increasing accuracy like tossing coins into a cup two meters away. Other studies suggest lucid state practice is just as effective.
Since organized sports frown on doping and many cannot afford to study meditation in Tibet, here are some ways to increase your lucid dream capacity naturally at home. The unique thing about lucid dreaming is that some may never achieve it. On the other hand, others may already experience it several times a week by merely hitting the snooze on their alarm. While others require four months of training to gain control of the dreams. Nonetheless, here are some steps to increase the likelihood:
In addition to practicing the tips above, you can also make sure your room is dark. It may also include starting a relaxing night ritual of bubble baths, soft music, and peaceful thinking.
As one author describes it, if you want to achieve lucid dreams at night this goal becomes apart of your waking life during the day. Read more about it. Discuss the goal with your partner or close friends. Know what thoughts or dream content you wish to insert. Whether you are training for a Tough Mudder or just trying to lose a few pounds, positive visualization and rehearsing your success is truly key for this exercise.
Theorists suggest getting used to waking up earlier, but just laying in bed with your eyes closed is important. In the split second it takes to turn off your alarm, start inserting your chosen dream material. Checking in with yourself to verify you are still sleeping is part of the process as well.
There are various ways to achieve this state of consciousness. Research suggests that if we can master this, not only will our technique improve but so will our overall confidence to give us a better competitive edge.
Erica is a psychotherapist and humanitarian aid coordinator who has a background in health psychology, global health, and addictions. She has over 16 years of counseling, teaching, and coaching experience. Erica has several masters degrees, is a licensed counselor, and has an addiction certification. She has worked with all ages in the US and abroad. Follow Erica on Twitter. Se habla español.
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