There's no denying the strong correlation between sleep and performance on the bike. There's a reason you feel sluggish as you grind up a hill after staying out too late the night before. There's also a reason why you feel punchy and mentally engaged after a good night's rest.
Not only does sleep affect energy levels and focus on the bike, but healthy sleep patterns also contribute to proper recovery and a decrease in sports-related injuries.
Before you catch some ZZZs tonight, consider adding these 10 habits to your bedtime routine. From stretching and hydrating to lubing your chain and laying out your kit, you'll create a more streamlined system that can boost cycling performance and recovery while also saving time.
Roll It Out
When paired with a regular stretching regimen, foam rolling is an easy way to promote recovery off the bike. Not only does it help prevent injuries, but it increases circulation, prevents delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and stretches your muscles as well. We're not just talking legs here, you can also roll out your back and glutes for a well-rounded recovery. Here are some of our favorite go-to foam rolling exercises for cyclists.
The emails and Instagram posts can wait until the morning. The bright screens and never-ending tasks on your smartphone can be too stimulating before bed, changing your body's internal clock and therefore making it tougher to fall (and stay) asleep. While disconnecting from the television or your smartphone an hour before bed is best, 30 minutes may be more realistic for most people. Strava can wait—try picking up a book instead.
Check the Weather
Especially when out on a long ride, the weather can change before you know it—sometimes leaving you at risk of being on the road unprepared. Before you go to bed, check the weather conditions for the next morning (but be mindful of screen time, as previously mentioned). This will help determine where you go, what time you go and what you need to prepare for gear-wise. It's always safe to err on the side of caution, so don't be afraid to cancel your plans and hit the trainer if things look dismal.
Plug in Your GPS Computer
There's nothing more frustrating than throwing your leg over the saddle before a Saturday morning group ride to find your GPS computer has low battery. Save yourself this frustration by plugging in your GPS the night before every ride, no matter if you think you have enough battery or not. Everybody knows if your ride isn't on Strava, it doesn't count. And if your Garmin dies halfway through the ride, it won't be on Strava.
Lay Out Your Kit
Decisions, decisions, decisions. With a closet full of brightly colored cycling kits, it can take a surprising amount of time to pick the right socks, jerseys and bibs for the day. Throw in inclement weather to the equation, and it adds even more time. Save yourself the hassle by laying out your kit of choice (after checking the weather of course) the night before.
Lube Your Chain
When you're running late the morning of a group ride, the first thing you're going skip is lubing your chain. It's considered best practice to lube your chain every three rides. Not only will this keep it from squeaking while you're out on the road, but it will prolong the life of your chain, chainrings, cassette and derailleurs as well. Add lubing your chain to your bedtime checklist if you have a ride planned the next morning.
Since cycling requires an ultra-repetitive, unidirectional motion, it can cause muscular issues over time. Cycling causes the muscles in your legs to shorten not lengthen, so it's important to incorporate a regular stretching routine into your training plan. Of course you should stretch after your rides, but also stretching before bed is a great nightly practice to promote mobility and a healthy range of motion before remaining motionless for hours. Here are some of our favorite stretches for cyclists.
Set the Coffee Timer
It's a consistent theme throughout the cycling world: bikes and coffee go hand in hand. Unless you're meeting at a coffee shop in the morning, grind the beans and get your coffee maker ready with the timer set (for the morning) before you go to bed. Pair a fresh cup of coffee with a banana and some oatmeal, and you'll be prepped and ready to put in the miles.
Think of a good night of sleep as a seven- to eight-hour fast. Since you usually won't be consuming any food or liquid during the night, prime your system by drinking a pint of water before you go to bed. Or opt for a sugar-free sports drink (we prefer NUUN) with no caffeine to top off on electrolytes before the next morning's ride. Drinking before bed helps promote healthy hydration, and it also works as an appetite suppressor to help control late-night cravings.
Fill Up Your Bottles
Especially important for warm summer rides, remember to fill your bottles before you go to bed, and leave them in your refrigerator overnight. Ice takes up room in your bottles, so prechilling them is a great way to maximize volume and still have cold water to drink. In the morning, mix in your sports drink powder, and you're ready to roll.