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Paralympic champion Ollie Hynd shares his top tips for regaining a regular routine

Swimming News

Paralympic champion Ollie Hynd has shared the top tips he introduced into his daily schedule after it was thrown out of sync by the coronavirus lockdown.

The four-time world champion details his struggle with the restrictions as he found it hard to sleep due to not training as much.

Here Hynd reveals the processes he went through to get back to a regular routine.

Usual routine

When I’m in normal training, my routine would be getting up at around 5.10am to be in the water for six. So that gives me enough time to get up and get over to the pool.

At around 10pm, I’ll get into bed, start to try and wind down and start to fall asleep which gives me a good amount of time to get some rest.

Later in my career, I’ve also started to have a daily 45 minute nap when I’ve needed it.

I’ve found that has been a nice amount to top up my energy and recover, ready for the next session of the day, but not impacting my main sleep.

How has this changed?

I think, like everybody at the beginning of lockdown, it was very difficult and everything was different.

As swimmers, we are used to being active and expending a lot of energy. For me, I was getting to the evenings and finding I wasn’t very tired.

So I was staying up later and then that rolls into the next day. You’re waking up later and it can get into a bit of a bad cycle.

Now I’ve got myself into a routine and I’m not having to get up quite as early as I was when I was swimming so I’ve been tending to go to bed slightly later.

I’ve been going to bed at about 11pm and trying to get up between seven and half past seven.

I’m just trying to keep that routine, keep that discipline, because I find when I’m in a routine I’m a lot more productive.

I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve got some pretty good equipment at home so I can pretty much still do my strength and conditioning programme that I was doing anyway when I was swimming and training normally.

Then, for the aerobic conditioning work, I’ve been doing a lot of rowing and boxing just to keep that conditioning going.

It’s not quite to the same volume as it was, but it’s definitely helped to keep my fitness level up and it’s been great to try a few different things as well.

Tips to help

I think one of the biggest things that can really hinder your sleep is screen exposure.

Because of the instant entertainment that’s so accessible now, I think that’s probably the biggest problem that people have with their sleep.

It’s very easy just to put the tele on when you’re going to bed or just pick up your phone and it’s easy to just scroll through Instagram or Facebook late at night when you’re in your bed.

We’re all guilty of it, but it’s just trying to limit it as much as possible and being self-aware about what you’re doing and trying to change it as much as possible.

Having that constant light exposure doesn’t really give your brain the chance to switch off and go into sleep mode and recover properly.

I’ve tried to limit that and I’ve been trying to read a little bit more before I go to bed to allow me to switch off completely.

Reading more was something I wanted to do more of in lockdown anyway so to put some of that in before I go to bed has been really good just to help my brain get ready for sleep.

If you’re in your room sat on your bed throughout the day your brain is going to associate your bed with doing things and being up and stimulated.

Whereas, if you keep your bedroom completely separate and it’s just for sleeping and as soon as you wake up you move out of your bedroom, your brain is going to associate it with sleep.

So when you come to getting in bed at night time, your body is going to automatically know it’s time to recover it’s time to rest.

Eating habits can have an impact

Avoid sugary drinks and caffeine and all of those things before you go to bed because they’re just going to keep you stimulated and that’s going to affect your sleep and the quality of your sleep.

Usually I’d finish my evening training session at around 7pm so by the time I’ve gotten home and turned myself round and eaten my meal, it’s quite late.

Whereas now I don’t have that, so I’m able to eat a bit earlier so I’m having my main meal a lot earlier in the evening and then I’m not really eating afterwards, which I’ve found works really well.

You don’t get that insulin spike and your blood sugars aren’t up before you go to bed. You don’t have to go to extreme lengths, but definitely trying not to eat something too heavy just before you go to bed will make a big difference.

When we’re all locked away and at home, it’s very easy to grab food and over eat, so just be mindful about what you’re putting into your body.

You’ve got to be disciplined with it and for swimmers that are used to expending a lot of energy, you’re not going to need as much fuel now because you’re not doing as much training.

Make that adjustment accordingly so that you’re not over eating because what you put in your body is the fuel and that’s going to help you feel better and go alongside your sleep and your recovery.

See more sleeping dos and don’ts from Commonwealth silver medal winning diver, Kat Torrance.