888poker Strategy: Quality Sleep Upgrades Poker Performance

Regular sleep patterns are rarely part of the professional poker player’s life. Every serious poker player can tell you a story about playing a forty-eight-hour shift, staying up late because the deck was hot, or playing the online poker Sunday grind until work started on Monday.

However, bad sleep isn’t just bad for your health—increasing the risk of heart attacks, weight gain, and poor mental health—it is also bad for your poker game. Sleeping well is a powerful tool for the professional poker player. Poker players need to be sharp for hours on end, or else they risk blowing their bankroll on frazzled decisions, as our friends at 888poker explained here.

Going to bed right might be one of the most profitable habits you can get into.


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Don’t Trust the Protestant Work Ethic

In 1905, economist Max Weber identified what he called the “protestant work ethic.” This is a cultural meme in which business is given a moral dimension. The hard worker feels like a good person, the more they suffer in their work, the better they are. One manifestation of this is a kind of lionizing of exhaustion.

We all know the kind of person who seems oddly proud of how tired they always are. Don’t be that person.

There is no virtue in knackering yourself. Sloth isn’t a sin when it serves to recharge you. Your boss will thank you for being better rested, especially in the poker world where your boss is you.

Benefits of Quality Sleep for Poker Players

The reasons you should start prioritizing good sleep as a person are myriad, but we’ll focus on the aspects that affect your poker game here:


Your brain is an energy-hungry beast, and sleep allows your body to get a head start on ATP production—ATP is the chemical fuel that powers almost everything living things do. Your body also runs repairs on the brain while you sleep.

The result is that the better-rested poker player will be able to concentrate better, paying attention to your opponents’ patterns and tells as well as crunching numbers and ranges faster and more accurately.

Balanced Emotions

Almost by definition, tilt costs money.

Tired players are more irritable and less able to regulate their emotions. Well-rested players tilt less hard and less often.

Get More Done

Playing poker well isn’t just about playing poker. It is also about studying efficiently and effectively. You must also live your life, wash your dishes and clothes, feed the rug, and vacuum the cat!

Getting all that done is easier when you’re sleeping properly.

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Healthy Mind In A Healthy Body

Poker may be a mind sport, but it’s worth remembering that you’re not a brain in a jar. You don’t have a body; you are a body. Good sleep improves your general health, and improving your health improves your brain function directly.

It also has indirect benefits, like fewer days lost to illness.

Improved Memory

Sleep plays a large part in laying down your memories of the day into your long-term memory banks. This processing is more effective if you sleep well.

Poker players depend on their memories while studying the game, analyzing hands after the fact, and tracking opponents’ quirks. Make sure you’re doing the work to keep your memory in the best shape it can be.

How To Improve Your Sleep

So, how do you get better sleep? Luckily for us, sleep is an area that has fascinated scientists for years, and as a result, we have some excellent tips for improving the quality of your sleep.

Figure Out Your Circadian Rhythm

The most important one is possibly the hardest for most people to implement. You see, everyone has a circadian rhythm—the series of hormonal clocks that track time for your body—these are hardwired. Although your circadian rhythm will change as you grow up and grow old, it does not adapt to your habits.

In the nine-to-five world, this results in something called “social jet lag.” The feeling of exhaustion that comes from being forced out of your natural sleep cycle by societal necessity.

If you are lucky enough to have control over your sleep schedule, turn your alarm off for two weeks. Go to bed when you’re tired, get up when you’re not tired. After a week or so, the times will balance out, and you’ll have a sense of when your body wants to sleep.

Set A Schedule and Stick To It

Whether you can set your schedule based on your circadian rhythm or not, the next best thing is regularity. Don’t stay up late all week and catch up on the weekend. Set a bedtime and wake time and make those part of your daily habit.

Schedule For Seven or Eight Hours a Night

Individual sleep requirements vary, but very few working-age adults require significantly less than seven hours of sleep per night. So, ensure you’re settling down early enough before your morning alarm.

Control Your Caffeine

Caffeine affects everyone differently, but its main action is blocking one of the chemicals that make you sleepy. Caffeine’s half-life is about five hours, so try to have your last caffeine intake 7-10 hours before bedtime. This gives your kidneys and liver time to break down and filter out the caffeine in your bloodstream.

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Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol can help you get to sleep by reducing anxiety and making you drowsy. However, it also reduces the quality of your sleep. If you can cut down or cut it out, the Sand-Man will thank you.

Exercise, But Not Too Late

Physical tiredness goes hand in hand with sleepiness. If you can increase your amount of physical activity during the day it will improve your sleep. Try a walk or calisthenics if working out doesn’t work for you. Any increase in activity will be an improvement unless you’re already training like an athlete.

Plus, exercise is good for you in plenty of other ways too, so it’s a real win-win.

Blue Light Wakes You Up

One of the ways your body tracks when you should be getting sleepy is through the quality and intensity of light. Blue light, in particular, signals to your brain that it is waking up time.

As a result, avoid screens (or if that is too much, switch them over to a warm-hued night mode).

Improve Your Diet

Eating better will help you sleep better. Avoid sugar and simple carbs more the closer to bedtime it gets, as these can give you a burst of energy to work off. Vitamins are important for your sleep cycle, too, so try starting your day with a multivitamin or a varied mix of fruit and veg.

Better Sleep, Better Player

Sleeping better will improve almost every aspect of your life—work and hobbies, relationships and health.

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