The Phoenix Suns’ point guard talks about his methods for getting a good night’s sleep.
Nodding off was tough. Then I found the perfect bedtime story.
By Steve Nash
I’m about to say something that most of you know: Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for good health and for getting the most out of the time you’re awake. For me, sleeping well could mean the difference between putting up 30 points and living with 15. But I’m just like everyone else; life’s distractions often get in the way of going to bed early enough. Fortunately, last year I was turned on to a great book called The Promise of Sleep, from which I’ve stolen a couple of tips for sleeping well.
Keep a sleep journal. I write down the time I go to sleep each night and the time I wake up. Here’s why: Research suggests that our sleep needs are cumulative. If humans generally perform best after eight hours of slumber, you can’t sleep for six hours one night and think that a good eight hours the next will cure all your problems. Theoretically, you’d need 10 hours the next night to “catch up on sleep” so that over the two nights you’re averaging eight hours. This is called sleep debt. By keeping a journal, I can look back and see how much debt I’m putting myself into. If it’s bad, the journal shocks me into making sure I get to bed plenty early — even if I’m not tired — since I know it will come back to haunt me later on.
Focus on your breathing. I’ve learned that when I lie down, I often won’t fall asleep for a while because my mind is fixated on everything from the game that night to what I need to do the next day. It may seem simple, but concentrating on my breathing helps a lot because it’s meditative. By doing that, my mind is cleared, and I’m usually out in a matter of minutes.
This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Men’s Journal.