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The NBA star is one of many elite athletes who say they sleep an average of seven hours or less per night. To get through all those grueling games, he relies on Ambien, which helps induce sleep by modifying brain chemistry. If you’re not up for taking medication, there are plenty of other steps you can take to get your ZZZs. A study in Sports Medicine found that consuming a snack before bedtime—the carbs help supply energy when you’re resting—and wearing earplugs to block out noises and protect against light helps induce more efficient sleep cycles.
Ronaldo, who once dropped about 16 pounds for an important match, says he loves eating pasta and salads. He also drinks coffee before matches: Coffee gives me more energy and helps my mind focus. Afterward, he downs several bottles of water. Dinner is usually chicken or fish, with plenty of vegetables (usually cooked in olive oil) on top of rice. To recover after games that go into extra time—or if he has had a tough week—he takes ice baths to reduce muscle aches and fatigue. Ronaldo is also conscious of his sleep schedule: I make sure I get eight hours of sleep every night because it’s important for recovery. In fact, many players are well aware that they perform their best when they’re properly rested.
The key for me is getting into my routine and keeping it consistent. I need my rest, so I do everything I can to make sure I get it. That’s one thing that’s helped me over my career and continues to help me today. As someone who spends every day with a group of hockey players, you quickly learn that everyone has their own rituals, superstitions and quirks—all designed with one goal in mind: helping them perform better on game day. In an effort to become sleepier hockey players have implemented all sorts of ways to ensure they can count sheep during those precious hours before puck drop.
A champion sleep is crucial for anyone looking to improve their on-court performance. While you can find myriad tips on how to fall asleep faster and enjoy more restful sleep, nothing beats some serious self-reflection. The key is becoming aware of what triggers your need for sleep; whether it’s hunger, fatigue or stress. Because you know how each trigger makes you feel, you’ll be able to recognize when one or several are present, at which point you can take steps to alleviate them before they sap your energy and keep you up at night. If fatigue or hunger are catching up with you during practice sessions—drink water!