Game on! Sports fans have it better than ever, with a ton of ways to follow their favorite teams. Want to watch Espanyol battle Alavés on the fútbol field in real time? Or an ATP tennis match in Stuttgart as it happens? Thanks to live-streaming services, you can do it.
While almost-unlimited access to national and international sports programming is a boon to fans, it can be a pain if you need to improve sleep quality. Staying up too late when your favorite team is playing or waking up in the middle of the night to catch a game can interfere with the natural cycle that lets you sleep soundly.
This cycle is called your circadian rhythm. Your body is programmed to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day. When you deviate from this internal schedule, you may have more trouble going to sleep at night and feel sleepy during the day, according to the Merck Manual. If improving sleep quality is important to you, it's worthwhile trying to at least modify this night-owl habit.
Win better sleep
Setting the DVR and waiting to watch the game until you're normally awake is the best tactic for enhancing sleep quality. If you've just got to watch in real time, here are some tips for getting your sleep schedule back on track:
Get right back on schedule. Keeping to a regular schedule of sleeping and waking can improve sleep quality, Sleep Education explains. That means going to bed and getting up at approximately the same time every day. So, you went off-schedule to watch a critical match. Maybe you slept in the next day, or maybe you got up early and stumbled through your day. In either case, going to bed at your usual time that night will put you back on track.
Take a melatonin supplement the next night. As SleepScore explains, the hormone melatonin is the prime regulator of the circadian rhythm. As daylight fades, melatonin production rises, causing you to eventually feel sleepy. But the light of a big TV screen can disrupt this process. If you've spent a few extra hours glued to the tube at night, a melatonin supplement can help readjust your circadian rhythm.
Get out in the morning. Daylight is as important as darkness for maintaining healthy cycles of sleeping and wakefulness. Sleep Cycle recommends a strong dose of natural sunlight in the early morning. You'll feel more alert during the day and have less trouble falling asleep at night.
Watch what you eat. After a late-night sports binge, your regular dose of caffeine can get you through the morning—but caffeinating throughout the day will do nothing to enhance sleep quality that night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends eating protein-rich foods early in the day and having a lighter meal before bed.
Depending on how they play, it can make or break your day. But don't let late-night sports wreck your sleep.