Practice makes perfect, and Olympic athletes spend years honing their craft in pursuit of medal glory. Hour after hour is spent on the track, in the ring or in the pool as huge sacrifices are made as they follow their dreams of performing on the biggest stage.
However, it’s not just the physical act of their discipline which is important, sleep too is vital if they are to succeed.
Team GB’s two-time Taekwondo Olympic medallist Lutalo Muhammad is gearing up for the Games which are set to go ahead in Tokyo this summer after the Coronavirus saw it cancelled in 2020.
Having narrowly lost out on gold at Rio 2016, he is more determined than ever. He explains, “It’s the start of a new Olympic year and I’m ready. I’ve had more time to reflect, make positive changes and train harder. I have to think that the games will be going ahead, and my mentality is fully focused on bringing home the gold medal.
“In order to perform to my best, recovery is paramount: I need to make sure that I get the right amount of sleep as it’s by far the most important thing in terms of your recovery. Everything else you do is really just supplementary, but your sleep is where you really make those recovery gains.”
Here he talks us through his preparations for the Games and explains the sleeping routine which aids his progress…
“This helps me relax my mind. Being on top of my breathing exercises is so important. Even if it’s just taking five minutes at night, ending the day in a calm way - I just feel like it allows you to completely cleanse the mind and body, just like resetting the computer.”
“Regular exercise is something that can really help you sleep, as it can relieve stress and relax your body. However, it’s important to go at your own pace and not overdo it, especially close to bedtime. Basically, you should be the right sort of tired, not exhausted, but go to sleep having used the energy your body has to offer.”
“I'm definitely guilty of maybe being on my phone a bit too long sometimes, so try to restrict time on your phone, especially in the evenings. Creating some general lifestyle rules that allow you to balance things in your life, making sure technology does not take over. Especially at night, it’s time to switch (everything) off.”
“I love coffee but I limit myself in how many I have and don’t drink any caffeine in the evening, as it interferes with the process of falling asleep. Instead, I will have a glass of milk or a mint tea, sit back and relax.”
“I love to relax before bed and find Yoga to be the perfect remedy. It de-stresses tensions and is scientifically proven to improve your quality of sleep.”
“Before a competition, when adrenaline has started to set in, I have a nice long full-body stretch before going to bed. It’s my way of releasing stress and tension after a hard day of training my body.”
Lutalo Muhammad is an ambassador for Worldwide Olympic & Paralympic partner Bridgestone for their ‘Chase Your Dream, No Matter What’ Olympic Games campaign. For more information, visit https://www.bridgestone.co.uk.