Jordyn Barratt competes during the women's skateboarding park preliminary at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 4, 2021 in Tokyo.
Proper sleep is as essential to mental health as a pool is to a swimmer. You can't have one without the other.
Without the right amount of sleep, it will have an impact, said 2020 Olympic skateboarder Jordyn Barratt. "I don't feel like myself. Sleep has helped me in so many ways — with my stress levels, anxiety and overall well-being."
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we asked 12 Team USA Olympians and Paralympians to share their best tips, techniques and tools for achieving your best sleep.
Stephania Haralabidis, 2020 Olympic gold medal water polo player
"I learned a technique from the silent retreat (the team took before Tokyo). When my mind would not shut off, and I would have difficulty falling asleep, I would lay flat on my back, and I would take a deep breath in, and every time I would take a deep breath in, I could feel the blood flow to my fingertips and toes, and I would concentrate on that. Breathing in and out and concentrating on that feeling helps me fall asleep."
Steve Emt, two-time Paralympic curler
"I try to get to sleep around the same time every night no matter what I have going on the next day. I make sure that the TV in my bedroom is off about 30 minutes before sleep and then read a little. That puts me right to sleep. Consistency is the key. I wake up early and ready to take on the day the next morning!"
Dani Aravich, two-time Paralympic triple threat: track and field, biathlon, and cross country skiing
"For me, getting at least seven to eight hours is essential to train at a high level. I can tell in my training if I'm not well rested. I can feel the effects of lack of sleep not only physically but mentally as well. Sometimes social things can get in the way of getting to bed early, but I try to maintain a routine with sleep as much as possible."
CJ Cummings, 2020 Olympic weightlifter
"For me, the key to getting good sleep is the ambiance. I turn down the air to make it cool and then turn on some tropical rainforest noises on my Alexa. Another important factor is to give me enough time to unwind. If I know I want to go to sleep at a certain time, I try to get in bed and get ready to sleep at least 30 minutes before that. If all of that doesn't work, I will eat some melatonin gummies."
Brooke Crain, two-time Olympic BMX racer
"For anxiety and overall struggles to sleep, I use the Headspace app. They have so many different options to choose from. I also like to remind myself of three things I'm grateful for and three things I'm proud of myself for doing that day before I fall asleep. Mental health battles sometimes feel overwhelming and tough, but a gentle reminder that you are tougher every day can make a world of difference."
Noah Elliott, two-time Paralympic snowboarder
"I find if my diet is consistent and fresh, I am more likely to get the sleep I desire and be in a better overall mental state. Exercise even outside of training for my sport and enjoying life has brought me to some of the best headspaces I have ever experienced."