What is the best advice or ideas on getting to sleep after playing hockey later in the evening?
For me, any game that begins after 8:30 p.m. is a challenge when it comes time to get to sleep. I have tried reading, eating, drinking beer, drinking cold milk, drinking warm milk, taking Tylenol PM (1 capsule and the recommended two capsules), watching videos and late-night television, and in the end, I get my butt kicked by Mr. Sandman.
What is going on here? I have reviewed the literature, i.e., Google search (29,600,000 hits on the search phrase “How do I get to sleep after late night exercise?”) and my favorite suggestion from the medical world is: “avoid exercise during the evening hours.”
Clearly, the medical folks have not played adult hockey in Minnesota.
So, I write this entry to stimulate some conversation and to throw out some ideas. I will tell you what works for me–but every one of us is different when it comes to sleeping and to falling asleep so these ideas may or may not work for you.
I will say that the beer and milk helps. I will also say that Tylenol PM works but with one capsule I experience a drug induced sleep that does not feel energizing come morning. Two capsules makes me feel like I am really drugged and it makes it difficult for me to wake up.
I have tried many things and so, here is the formula that works for me and you can pick and chose or reject it completely:
1. Stretch. After I get my equipment off, I stretch in the locker room. The medical literature tells us that it is better to stretch a warm muscle than a cold one. I focus more on my legs and hamstrings than on my upper body.
2. Post-Game Hydration. I drink a Gatorade or a ONE (coconut water). Replacing electrolytes after intense exercise is one of the key suggestions of nutritionists to reduced muscle pain and tightness.
3. Melatonin Anyone? I take a Melatonin tab. My chiropractor recommended it. Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces that increases as you get closer to bedtime. It is what helps you fall asleep and to stay asleep during the night.
Melatonin levels decrease as morning arrives and scientists claim that it is almost imperceptible in our bodies during walking hours. I buy a melt in your mouth supplement at GNC called Melatonin 5000 ZipMelt.
4. Shower. I take a hot shower–cooler if I can stand it.
5. Reading. I read for about 20 minutes to relax and then I turn off the light.
Many of the sleep experts don’t recommend it, but I believe that a beer after the game with my teammates is the best way to get started toward a good night’s sleep.