Poker is not exactly an activity that is commonly associated with good sleep patterns.

Live poker games can often run far into the night. Online players may find themselves playing poker at unusual hours chasing a lucrative game.

Despite the above, a good night’s rest is one of the most effective tools in a poker player’s arsenal. For many, an improved sleep pattern could be one of the biggest upgrades they make to their poker game and even their entire life.

Is it possible to balance finding profitable poker games and getting good quality sleep?

Fighting the Stereotype

Not all poker players wake up in the afternoon and play until the small hours of the morning (although a number clearly do).

There is a modern poker professional that wakes up early (or at least during the morning), plays poker during regular waking hours and prioritizes healthy sleep patterns.

Many casinos are open 24/7 (or close to it) meaning that there are games running around the clock. It’s possible to play poker at a time that makes sense for us. Although there are likely peak times in terms of poker traffic, it’s not mandatory to be playing at the absolute busiest time.

Online poker players have even more flexibility; they can choose a room that has good traffic during their preferred working hours.

Benefits of Quality Sleep for Poker Players

Here are some of the reasons why we should think carefully about the quality of our sleep as poker players -

1 – Improved attention and concentration.

It’s likely obvious why improved attention and concentration is an important benefit for poker players. Better attention/concentration means longer poker sessions and better decisions at the table.

2 – Better emotional balance.

Lack of sleep can cause stress. Variance in poker is already challenging enough without trying to cope with additional problems caused by tiredness. A good night’s sleep can be the difference between going on tilt after a bad beat and continuing to play our best game.

poker table

3 – Increased productivity.

More energy simply means we’ll get more done. This includes high quality study time for poker players. If we are feeling washed out, the chances are we’ll either skip our study time for the day or find that our study time is low quality.

4 – Better health.

We all want good health, not just poker players. If we are ill, it’s going to affect our poker game. We’ll either be playing less volume, playing a worse game, or being forced to take a break entirely. Lack of sleep also increases the likelihood of problems with mental health. Poker can be mentally taxing; it’s important to do everything we can to keep our mental health in shape.

5 – Conversion of short-term memories.

When we sleep, we learn. Our brain makes sense of what has happened during the day and converts some of our short term memories into longer term memories. A good night’s sleep means we are more likely to retain the information that we learned during our poker study session that day.

How to Get Quality Sleep

Ok, so we understand why quality sleep can be beneficial. But how do we do it?

Here are some top tips for improving the quality of our sleep.

Get 7-8 hours sleep a night.

This is the average recommended amount of sleep for an adult, although the perfect amount varies depending on the individual. Some might get by on slightly less, but others will need slightly more. We might imagine that the more sleep we get, the better, but this is not true. Oversleeping has been linked to poor concentration and negative health effects in the long run.

Sleep and wake at the same time every day.

If we always sleep and wake at the same time each day, we’ll form habits. This will make it easier to naturally fall asleep and wake up at the correct times. Trying to sleep at varying times means we might find it difficult to fall asleep at first and then struggle to wake up at the right time on the following day.

Limit caffeine intake.

It’s recommended to stop all caffeine intake after a certain time, perhaps 8 hours before sleeping. This is just a guide; caffeine affects everyone differently. However, unless we really need that caffeine hit, it usually just makes sense to avoid caffeine in the hours leading up to sleep.

Regulate alcohol intake.

Although alcohol use may cause us to drift off faster, studies have shown that alcohol consumption results in lower quality and shorter amounts of sleep. The same studies suggest that even a single drink can decrease sleep quality by around 10%. This doesn’t necessarily mean we have to quit alcohol entirely, but it’s good to weigh up the pros and cons when deciding whether to drink or not on a certain day.

Get sufficient exercise during the day.

Regular exercise is great for our health, but it also contributes to us feeling naturally tired around the time when we should be sleeping. On the other hand, if we hardly move throughout most of the day, we might find it harder to drift off to sleep at night.

Sleep at night rather than during the day.

We are designed to sleep at night and be awake during the day when the sun is up. Although it is possible to reverse this (for example, night/shift workers), it’s extremely difficult to keep our sleep quality at the same level when sleeping during the day. Studies have shown that night workers age biologically faster and die younger. Those regular all-nighters at the casino or in front of the computer might simply just not be worth it.

Avoid blue light at night.

Bright lights (especially containing blue light) inhibit melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy and helps us to fall asleep at night. It’s a good idea to make use of lower light settings in the hour before sleep to aid with melatonin production.

Some of the biggest emitters of blue light at night are our devices; phones, tablets, laptops etc. Some choose to completely avoid any screens in the hour before sleeping. If we do decide to continue using our devices, we should make use of dark mode along with any ‘night shift’ option that turns the screen light from our device to shades of orange rather than blue.

Consume a balanced diet.

There is a link between a good diet and high quality sleep. Eating too much food late at night, or consuming too much sugar during the day, may also make it difficult to get effective sleep. Certain foods (for example those containing vitamin B) help to regulate our melatonin production. A good diet can also result in weight loss and increased health, which in turn boosts the quality of our sleep.


The benefits of high quality sleep can be an absolute game changer. For many, improved sleep patterns might be the single biggest non-strategic upgrade to their game.

The benefits of a high quality sleep routine will also help us to improve in other important areas of our life such as work, hobbies, relationships, and health.

Why not get started right away with this powerful upgrade?

Timothy "Ch0r0r0" Allin is a professional player, coach, and author. Since the beginning in 2006 he has built his roll from the lowest limits online without depositing a single dollar. After competing in some of world's toughest lineups (and winning) he now shares his insights and strategies with the 888poker magazine.