Tossed and turned all night? That groggy next-day feeling can lower your speed and reaction time and can even affect performance. Research has found sleep-deprived athletes may be negatively impacted in areas like strength and power. The easiest way to take your energy back? These simple habits, performed around bedtime.
1. Sip Smarter
Even slight dehydration can sap performance and make you tired and irritable, research suggests. Make sure you drink water before and after any workout that is less than 60 minutes.
“Anything longer, bring a bottle blended with electrolytes and carbs,” says certified strength and conditioning specialist Annie Dohack, a trainer at Complete Human Performance. “Sip it as you exercise, then finish it afterward.”
Two hours before bed, drink eight to 16 ounces of ice water, which will drop your core temperature, helping you fall asleep faster, while still giving you time to pee some of it out so you don’t awaken in the middle of the night.
2. Embrace the Bedtime Snack
If your weekly mileage increases but your food intake doesn’t follow suit, you’re going to peter out. In fact, that may be the top reason you feel exhausted, says Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph.D., a nutritionist at Precision Nutrition.
“People who don’t eat enough also report problems sleeping and waking up earlier than intended,” she says. “That’s because when your liver glycogen [a type of stored energy] is depleted, your adrenaline kicks in early, blasting you out of bed.”
Nosh on a snack—like carb- and protein-rich Greek yogurt sprinkled with whole grains—for sounder sleep, says Christopher Winter, M.D. “Just make sure you finish your snack at least two hours before bedtime,” he says. “Any closer and the food can cause indigestion that impairs sleep.”
Weeks with higher life stress can double your risk for an athletic injury, according to University of Missouri researchers. “Your ability to deal with stress is like a bank account,” says Doug Kechijian, a physical therapist at Resilient Performance PT in New York City. “Any stressor—a long run or crazy day at work—depletes the account. Overdraw and you feel run-down or get injured.”
Scott-Dixon and Dohack recommend doing something each day to blow off steam, like meditation, a proven stress and anxiety reducer. Try an app like Calm or Headspace before bed and you’ll reduce tension, helping you get to sleep faster.
(This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Women’s Health. For more great advice, pick up a copy of the issue on newsstands now!)