Online poker is all about putting in long hours of work, most of which happen during the wee hours of the night. A game of poker certainly requires you to be mentally alert to make quick decisions in stressful situations. It’s therefore important to give your brain the right amount of rest by sleeping at the right time to enhance your cognitive abilities on the felts.
Better sleep = better performance. Here are a few tips on sleeping right.
A good nights sleep
Routines are haywire and most of the catching up on sleep happens during the day for poker players. While you might feel rested, it’s no redemption for a good night’s sleep you’ve missed out on! During the night our bodies produce melatonin – a sleep hormone that plays an important role in many processes that our bodies go through during different stages of sleep. These include producing growth hormones, recovering body cells, sorting out information received during the day, restoring the energy level sufficient for the next day and maintaining the immune system.
Sleeping during the day on the other hand goes more against our circadian clock and does not contribute much to melatonin. We all know how bad sleep affects the deterioration of mood, memory or the effectiveness of solving intellectual problems. Players who sleep normally and try sticking to a regular sleep pattern can definitely optimize this process, and thus improve the functioning of their brain, and quality of their poker game (tilts included).
Pre sleep routines
With the advancement of technology and the constant need to have our gadgets around, most of our sleep cycles are being affected. Plan your day in such a way to avoid the following list of activities during the last two to three hours before bedtime:
- The use of electronic devices (yes, we all know it, but don’t practice it)
- Consumption of liquor – While research proves that small doses might make you fall asleep faster, it certainly reduces the quality of your sleep no matter the dosage!
- Caffeine – Every poker players go to drink, certainly not advisable during the second half of the day and certainly not in the quantities consumed!
- Junk and fatty food – Your body really needs the rest and is not interested in churning down all the fat from that KFC burger you decided to consume when clock struck midnight! Eat light!
- Physical exercises – For all you night owls, exercising during these hours is probably not a good idea.
A healthy sleep environment
Ensure your body is in a comfortable sleeping position and environment. You must have a good mattress and a high pillow. Since you spend hours in front of a system and postures are not kept in mind, ensure your spine gets the required rest. Your pillow should be high enough so that your spine is not unnaturally bent when you sleep and your mattress should not be too soft.
Try and ensure your room maintains an optimal temperature of 15 – 21°C to ensure you will get some quality sleep. Ensure the room is completely dark; invest in the right curtains or a good pair of blinds.
We all do it, turn to our beloved gadgets first than our loved ones! In the first few minutes after waking up, keep all your gadgets at bay (we hope you aren’t sleeping with them in the first place!). This is crucial as your mind will be able to enter the rhythm of the day in a smooth and calm manner.
Power Naps all the way!
If you feel tired during the day, do not feel guilty taking a nap or what is scientifically called Controlled Recovery Period (CRP). The optimal duration for a nap is about 25-30 minutes.
Playing poker means being active during hours that do not follow the natural rhythm of the human body. It certainly puts tournament players in a spot since good sessions are essentially end up being long sessions. The longer the session, the worse the decisions, the more the mistakes and we all know how expensive those are!
Try and schedule your sessions and pick your games accordingly. While some games might be unavoidable and lead to long hours, work on planning your sleep and your day around it. Take enough care to rest well before and after long sessions!
Bon Nuit and Bon Chance!