In the midst of the Astros playing in the World Series, late nights watching the game on TV or at the stadium are inevitable. As we close in on the final games, a sleep expert at the Baylor College of Medicine said there are ways to feel more rested throughout the day, even if you are up late watching a major sporting event.
Dr. Ritwick Agrawal, assistant professor of sleep medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, offers tips on how to enjoy late-night sports and still get good sleep:
- Limit caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals
Food and drinks are inevitable while watching the games, but drinking too much alcohol or caffeine can result in poor quality of sleep and leave you feeling tired and groggy the next day.
“Alcohol can make you sleepy but the quality of sleep is also very poor,” Agrawal said. “If you are drinking an energy drink or other highly caffeinated drinks then it will prevent you from falling asleep when it’s bedtime.”
- Limit light exposure in the bedroom when it’s time for bed
Keeping your bedroom dark with blackout curtains or blinds will help you fall asleep faster, improve your sleep throughout the night and help you sleep a little later the next day, if you have that luxury.
“Light sensitivity has shown to impact our sleep,” Agrawal said. “A lot of my patients can’t fall asleep even if there is a little bit of light in the bedroom. If you don’t have dark blinds or curtains try using a temporary paper blinds or even a black trash bag to prevent any light from coming into the room if you are sensitive to light.”
- Consider taking a short nap during the day
If you are feeling sluggish the next day, Agrawal said finding time to take a short nap will help you feel rejuvenated. He does not recommend taking a nap for more than 30 minutes or too close to bedtime.
“Try to catch a nap somewhere, even if it’s short,” Agrawal said. “If you have that opportunity it can help refresh people who need to catch up on sleep.”
- Make time for exercise
Finding time to exercise before the game or the next day has proven to improve quality of sleep and can help wake you up if you are feeling sleepy.
“Exercise tires the body and can play a positive role in improving your nighttime sleep, even if it’s for only 30 minutes a day,” Agrawal said. “I don’t recommend doing it too close to bedtime because it can also wake a person up, but doing it in the evening when you return from work or in the morning helps.”
- Catch up on sleep the next day or over the weekend
Aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep by sleeping in is an effective way to feel rested after a late night. If sleeping in is not possible, try catching up on sleep during the weekends or days when your favorite sports team is not playing a late game.
“Try catching up on sleep by going to bed earlier or waking up later or whatever works best for you,” Agrawal said. “However, this strategy only works for the short term or for somebody who is doing it for a few days and then going back to their regular sleep schedule. If someone has to catch up on sleep on a more frequent basis then that needs to be addressed because long-term sleep deprivation is a serious problem. It increases the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s and has been associated with other significant health issues.”
- Remember to return to your normal sleep schedule
Agrawal adds that these methods should only be used for a short amount of time, and that you should return to your normal sleep schedule when the World Series or any other major event is over. He recommends keeping the same or within 10-15 minutes of the same bedtime and wakeup time throughout the week for the best quality of sleep and overall performance the next day.
“Try to minimize those days where you have to sleep late and are getting less sleep,” Agrawal said. “Our bodies love routine, so it’s really important to try going to bed at the same time during the weekday and the weekends.”