In poker, players can often spend double digits of hours each day they’re training in a bid to improve their poker strategy. Sometimes, however, it’s the extra things you can do to improve your life that end up having a positive effect on your poker game.
Last time, we detailed how you can perfect your travel game, and we’ve already told you five diet changes every poker player can benefit from. This time, we’re looking at the first building block for almost every good day at the felt – a good night’s sleep.
Poker, by its very design, is such a stirring game that sleep can often seem counter-intuitive to winning. Casinos pump oxygen in to keep players of all their games awake. Online tournaments often last until the early hours of the morning. Poker is exciting, demanding and uses mental energy, often exhausting amounts. It can, however, keep you up.
Falling asleep may seem impossible at the end of an exciting tournament day during a major event, for example, but it can be achieved. Here are five ways to help yourself get the rest you need to be at your best. We’re going to skip right past the ones we tipped you in the diet-based advice, purely because if you’ve read up to this point chronologically, you’ve already kicked caffeine, alcohol and excessive sugar intake… haven’t you?
1. Get the room right
Your first thought when entering a hotel room on a poker trip should be: ‘Is my room at the right temperature?’. Reduced to the purest elements, life is often just one long search to be at the correct temperature, and this is never truer than when we attempt sleep.
Failing to adjust your hotel or Air B’n’B heating system when you arrive could leave you overheating at night when you try to sleep, and the same applies to air conditioning. There is such a thing as being too chilled out.
Make sure that you have a good curtain coverage, and try to keep your sleep environment as dark as possible – light can wake anyone up and different timezones can provide havoc for light sleepers.
2. Sleep comfortable
What you wear when you got to sleep is different for each person, and we all have different preferences. To some, sleeping in flannelette nightgowns is de rigueur. To others, sleeping in the buff is the only way to be.
Whether you like to be tucked up against the elements or completely open to them, knowing what makes you comfortable in your own bed is important.
3. Prepare your bed
Preparing for bed isn’t just about wearing the right nightwear and climbing into fresh sheets. There are other things you can do to make your bed the best place to be in your room, and that’s not beholden on any company you might keep.
Make sure you have enough fluid to go to bed with, just don’t overdo it, you don’t want to be getting up in the night and disturbing your sleep.
One trick that can improve your sleep if you struggle is a pillow spray. The good ones really work and can aid your night’s sleep if you’ve never tried it before.
4. Establish a routine
You want to be turning off technology a good half hour before you close your eyes, otherwise the ‘blue light’ can keep you awake even if you don’t want it to. Some light, undemanding reading before sleep is a good way to prepare your body for a temporary shutdown.
Once you’ve cut out the bad habits that could threaten your sleep, get into a routine of doing the same thing every night. Spray, read and relax. And repeat.
5. Take a bath and enjoy exercise
Two great ways that are medically proven to aid sleep are exercise and bathing. If you’re doing strenuous exercise, then you want to leave at least three hours between your workout finishing and you hitting the hay.
When it comes to washing, baths are +EV compared to showering. The heating then cooling of the body’s temperature shortly before you go to bed prepares your body for sleep and can help you have a better quality and more consistent night’s sleep.