Since starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I have had sporadic issues with being wired and having trouble going to bed after frustrating or challenging evening training sessions. In order to help with both my training and overall health, I decided to take a deep dive into how I can get my post-jiu-jitsu sleep into a better place.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu puts both your mind and body into a highly stimulated energetic state. If you’re having trouble sleeping after class, find ways to slow down your mind and body by altering your routine leading up to bedtime, and get the rest that you deserve after a good training session.
This article will explain what makes it hard to sleep after a BJJ session. We will also go over some tips that my training partners and I have found effective in improving sleep quality after days in which we train jiu-jitsu.
BJJ puts your body in a heightened state and raises your adrenaline. You may have difficulty resting because your body is not given enough time to move into a relaxed state immediately after training. This is especially the case for those who train at night.
Finding ways that work to bring you into a relaxed state before bedtime is the general goal to help to mitigate the issues you might experience with sleep quality after exercise from BJJ training, but it will be different for each individual.
How To Structure Your Evening Post BJJ for Quality Sleep
Build your best post BJJ training routine and level up your sleep using the below strategies:
- Planning Post-Workout Meals
- Stop Using Electronics One Hour Before Bed
- Ensure That Your Environment Encourages Sleep
- Relax Your Mind and Body Before Sleeping
- Reflect on Your BJJ Training Session
- Have a Sleep Schedule
- Use Sleep-Promoting Tools
- Do Not Go to Bed if You’re Not Tired
- Meditate To Calm Your Mind After Practice
- Take Cool Showers After Practice
- Practice Breathing Exercises Before Bed
- Start Foam Rolling After Practice
- Do yoga
There are several practices you can add to your evening habits for better sleep after training. The goal is to put your body in a restful state and you can start by doing calm activities before bedtime.
Of course, it would be best to go to earlier BJJ sessions where possible. In doing this, your body will have more time to wind down before bed. However, if this is not an option, there are other ways to structure your evenings for quality sleep.
Planning Post-Workout Meals
If you want to maximize your ability to get good sleep after training, you should not go to bed hungry or stuffed as the discomfort can distract you and keep you from getting good sleep. Make sure you moderate your portions and get enough macros in for recovery.
Therefore, for better sleep, plan your post-workout meals, so they meet your body’s requirements without overindulging. Also, avoid having caffeine and alcohol before bed as well.
Some trainers suggest having dinner ready and microwavable for convenience. This habit will also save you time that you can use for sleeping.
Stop using electronics like your phone and laptop one hour before trying to fall asleep. The Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding prolonged use of light-emitting technology before bed in order to let your brain and eyes readjust. Dimming or turning off ambient light also helps.
Also, make sure you aren’t using electronics or other similarly stimulating devices in bed, since it will muddy your associations with your bed for sleep, which can reduce your ability to fall asleep effectively.
Make sure your room is dark. You can make your room more restful by using blackout curtains and minimizing all light in your environment. I personally even cover the time on my alarm clock to minimize light.
You should also control for noise in your sleeping area and ensure that it is either quiet or has enough white noise that other ambient noises that might lighten your sleep are less noticeable.
Relax Your Mind and Body Before Sleeping
Before going to sleep, incorporate calming activities into your evening routine. This can include yoga, reading, podcasts, or meditation. Getting your mind calm and quiet will help you get to sleep faster.
Reflect on Your BJJ Training Session
It is recommended to reflect on your session before bed to prevent thinking about it while trying to sleep. For me, replaying training in my head while trying to sleep sometimes gets my adrenaline system going again as I’m transported back in that session mentally.
Have a Sleep Schedule
A healthy sleep schedule requires you to go to bed at the same time every day. Also, you will have to wake up at a set time, even on days off. The best practice is to set aside at least eight hours for your rest period.
Additionally, your new sleep routine cannot include long daytime naps that interfere with your ability to go to sleep later. If you must have a nap before practice, sleep for no more than thirty minutes.
Numerous products will aid in your sleep after practice. For example, if you live in a noisy environment, consider using a white noise machine or earplugs. Other items that can help are sleep masks and blackout curtains to control light.
I even use a mattress cooling pad in order to make sure that my body temperature stays low enough to keep me in a more restorative deep sleep since waking up too warm decreases your nighttime sleep quality.
Lying awake is almost as harmful to your sleep as doing work in your bed. If you’re not tired, it is far better to stay away from your mattress until you are.
If you find yourself too awake in the lead up to bedtime and need ways to tire yourself out, consider the following:
- Read a novel
- Play an instrument
- Start a low impact hobby
Also, if you lie in bed and do not fall asleep, it is recommended to get up after twenty minutes rather than waiting in bed. It won’t benefit you to lay there much longer than that.
Meditation has helped Jiu-Jitsu trainers fight their insomnia and enjoy a restful sleep. Most importantly, this option requires minimal effort and has been proven effective in boosting sleep. Spend fifteen minutes doing your favorite meditation technique.
Take Cool Showers After Practice
Cool showers help to relax bring down your body temperature and help with sleep quality, even promoting faster sleep. Consider adding a cooling shower to your nighttime routine to gently bring your body temperature down.
Note that the water should not be extremely cold as that might elicit an overresponse from your body and end up being stimulating before bed. A simple cool to room temperature shower can help to bring your body temperature down after training.
A good breathing routine can relax the mind and prepare the body for sleep. 10 to 15 minutes breathing exercises can be helpful before bedtime.
A simple breathing exercise to relax before bed involves:
- Take a long breath, filling your lungs.
- Hold the breath for one to three seconds.
- Slowly exhale, leaving a small amount of air in your lungs.
- Repeat for 30 – 40 inhales.
- Do this exercise four to five times.
Relaxing your body is equally as crucial as calming your mind after training. SCL Health recommends that athletes implement foam rolling into their routines after training to prepare their bodies for sleep.
Anybody who has tried to sleep with excessive soreness or cramping understands that keeping this from happening will help sleep quality. Practice foam rolling for a few minutes after your training sessions can alleviate this and improve your sleep cycle.
Take a look at this video by the Jiu-Jitsu Therapist to see how he approaches this issue.
Use Yoga To Relax Before Bed
Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood discusses using yoga to flush the adrenaline from your system before heading to bed by meditating during the evening after practice. Along with relaxing your mind, yoga effectively reduces adrenaline in the body and prepares you for sleep.
A basic Yoga Nidra routine to help promote sleep is below:
- Close your eyes.
- Start with slow, relaxed breaths and remember to inhale and exhale completely.
- Draw your attention to your right foot.
- Focus on the foot while relaxing it.
- Shift your attention to your right knee and consciously relax this part.
- Perform this process for your entire right side and then the left.
- After you relax, observe the sensations in your body.
- Sit in this state for as long as comfortable.
- Slowly bring your awareness to your surroundings.
- Turn to the right and lay here for a few minutes.
Some of these tips will go further than others in each individual, but taking these ideas into account when putting together your evening routine will make it easier to get good sleep on your training days. Even still, there will be nights where it is challenging to rest after practice.
Focus on winding down after training in combination with good sleep habits and a healthy diet will make a big difference in supporting your sleep cycle even after hard evening practices.
If you find yourself having an exceptionally troubling time going to sleep, the video below provides an easy routine to relax your muscles and tire out your body:
For more check out Should You Drink Caffeine Before BJJ to Improve Performance?