Melatonin is a natural hormone our bodies have which reacts with sunlight. This controls our natural sleep cycle. So when it's dark outside our body knows it's time to sleep and when the sun is shining our body reacts and knows it's time to wake up.
Being in front of a computer screen grinding all day can upset these hormones and leave our body and mind in a mess. Here's a few techniques to help with your sleep pattern and to help you stay awake when you need to.
Sleeping Routine in Poker
First and foremost - It's important to sleep well. As adults we need between 7-9 hours sleep per night to run at optimal performance. So grinding 18 hours a day and sleeping 6 hours will actually affect your performance negatively. If we do this countless times per week our bodies will start to shut down and crave more rest. This can leave us feeling restless, sloppy and we can also start to fall asleep at bad times!
How to improve your sleep
Not all of us are lucky enough to have set shifts for playing poker. If we can set our sleep times we should aim to sleep when it's dark and to be waking up as the sun is coming up. Our body reacts well with this and we receive certain vital minerals from the sun. It's also easier to sleep when its dark and to wake up/rejuvenate when the sun is out.
Have a poker routine
Have a routine. Going to sleep at a certain time every night and waking up at a certain time will program your mind/body to do this. This benefits you as you will not be tossing and turning as much and will find yourself feeling fresh and healthy when you wake up.
Napping is better than sleeping late. Making up for a bad nights sleep in the afternoon with a 2-3 hour nap is much better than changing your routine to go to sleep earlier or to lie in past your usual wake up time. A nap can be the quick fix we need to make us feel sharp and ready for the grind. When napping be smart not to do it at the wrong times or for to long. If you nap on the evening the likeliness is you wont feel tired for your usual sleep time.
After eating we may feel tired and ready to sleep, we must fight this feeling by doing something to occupy our mind and to leave us even more tired to sleep later on. No napping after dinner! If you find yourself napping then get off the couch and do something pro-active. Even if its just cleaning up or having a little walk. This will stop you thinking about sleep.
Tips and Tricks for better sleeping
- Dont use your laptop/ipads before you sleep. The backlights from these will cause your body to wake up and make your mind focus more.
- Turn off everything! Televisions will keep you awake as will music.
- Make sure the room is dark...pitch black is ideal.
- When you go to the bathroom keep one eye closed - This trick will stop your body from being fully woken up and restless.
- Maintain silence. Make sure everyone is aware you are sleeping and that you dont want to be disturbed. Turn your phone off!!!
- Keep cool. Keeping your room cool will help. Buy a silent fan or open your window. Natural air is good for us full stop!
- Have a comfortable bed. Buying a new mattress or some padded pillows can be everything you need. A lot of you reading this will probably not make your bed!!! DO IT. A made bed is far more inviting to sleep in and will leave you feeling less stressed and uncomfortable!
- Don't eat big meals before bed. This will lie heavy on your stomach and cause weight gain. Have a light snack if you are hungry.
- No huge mugs of coffee! Caffeine before bed is a nono. This wakes you up and counteracts any sleeping patterns.
- When lying in bed take deep slow breaths, counting you in and outtakes will actually help you nod off….just like counting sheep.
- Visualising a relaxing place will also help. Not thinking over every hand you played that evening! Save session reviews for the morning.
- Dont think! In bed most of us will find ourselves obsessively thinking about tasks or things that may be worrying us. Clear your mind and save all of this for the morning.
How to stay awake
- Remove sunglasses! Let the sun light/lights hit your face. Your eyes will tell your brain its not dark and its time to be grinding.
- Leave the desk! When on breaks jumping outside for a walk, cig or just to clear your mind for 5 minutes.
- Open the curtains and pull up the blinds! Position your setup out the way of the light beams so you can let natural light in your room.
The main rule!
A bedroom should be for just sleeping and sex! Don't have your computer in the room or do any other activities in there which may take away from any bed action. Our body needs to know this is the place where sleeping or sex takes place only. This will always leave us happy about getting into bed as we know its time to relax or to get busy!