Q: I can’t sleep before a race!


I have a race coming up this weekend, and I’m worried about getting enough sleep.  I get so nervous that I hardly sleep at all the night before a race.  Does this happen to you?  How can I get more rest?

-Camille, Portland




That is totally normal.  Most pro athletes I know struggle with sleep the night before a race, and I can assure you, some of my best performances (and those of my peers) have come off of restless nights.  Those races usually feel crappier, especially during the warmup, but if you don’t let it get to your head, you can have a great race.

That being said, it is way more fun to race feeling rested, and the 9 hours you spend lying awake looking at the ceiling is time I’m sure you’d rather not experience.  Just knowing that your race won’t suffer due to lack of sleep will help you fall asleep. Pre-race jitters in bed often leads to a mental spiral of “Crap, I can’t sleep.  Aw man, I knew this would happen.  I have to sleep or I’m going to have a bad race.  Fall asleep!  Do it!”  I guarantee this will not help you fall asleep.

Take the pressure off, make sure your stuff is ready to go for tomorrow, set an alarm, and realize that any sleep you get is a bonus, but you don’t need it.  I take a melatonin 1 hour before bed, read something really boring in low lighting, or try to solve a difficult cross word puzzle, and that usually does the trick.