Here is a picture of Lotto taking a mid day rest after a big interval training session at the park chasing a ball. Lotto has taught me a lot about recovery. Here are some great tips to help you get a good night’s sleep. It will do wonders for your cycling performance and fitness.

What a dog can teach us about recovery

Lotto has three speeds. Flat out, cruising and sleeping. When she isn’t chancing a ball or following us around the house she is sleeping. Dogs sleep a lot and smaller dogs sleep more than larger dogs. Lotto understands that to be at her peak she has to rest and the best form of rest is sleeping.   So that is what she does when she is not doing anything else.

Without doubt, the best form of recovery is sleep

When you sleep, growth and repair hormones are released. These help you recover and makes you a stronger and fitter cyclist. It’s critically important that you sleep as often and as long as possible to ensure you are receiving the best benefit from your training. You should sleep a minimum of eight hours per night for bike racing but the likelihood is you’ll need more. You’ll find most young racers sleep between nine and ten hours per night.

Here are some tips to help you get better sleep:

  • Get up immediately after waking and try to go to bed at about the same time every night. A rule of thumb to work out how much sleep you personally need is to go to sleep a half hour earlier every night until you start to wake feeling refreshed or wake without an alarm clock at your normal wake up time.
  • Another important tip on getting a great night sleep is to ensure that your bedroom is totally dark when you go to sleep. This may include covering up the windows so that they block street lights and putting a dark cloth over the alarm clock or other light emitting devices in your bedroom. Having a quiet room helps too.
  • Also, if you do wake up at night try to avoid turning on any lights. This is because the bright light is detected as a morning wake up message. This upsets your body’s rhythms by interfering with the secretion of your recovery hormones for the rest of the night.
  • Keep a water bottle on your bedside table. If you get up during the night to go to the toilet have a drink before you go back to bed. This will help you be less dehydrated when you wake in the morning.
  • Best hours to sleep are from 9pm till 7am.
  • Best hours to snooze are from 2-4pm.

Your body appreciates a regular sleeping routine and if you concentrate on doing this, pretty soon you won’t need an alarm clock to wake you up anymore. If you have the luxury of time to rest immediately after training: take a nap. It will do wonders for your recovery, performance and fitness.