Simple Reminders about the Importance of Sleep for Runners
In case you didn’t already know, you probably need more sleep. The average American adult only gets 5-7 hours per night, but it’s recommended to get 7-9. (Many pro athletes get over 10 hours of sleep!) While I can’t fathom what that much sleep would feel like, (sweet, sweet bliss), it is a good reminder that ALL runners need more sleep if they hope to perform like a pro…or as best as they can.
As I’ve mentioned before, we just had twin girls, so sleep is as precious as it is fleeting. While I’m hardly doing my share of middle of the night changings and feedings, there are days I can barely get outside to run (and when I do, feel terrible). This is a temporary situation (hopefully they won’t always be waking up every few hours in the middle of the night) so it feels like a relevant time to give a refresher on what it means to get good quality sleep. Even in a situation like mine, there are things you can do to get better sleep.
Did you know that running in a state of sleep deprivation can be incredibly harmful? It can lead to injury and sickness, not to mention you feel terrible. According to the American Psychological Association, “40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities.”
Below is an infographic that came across my inbox from the folks at Casper Mattresses. It’s a simple reminder about how important sleep is for your body and mind. Sleep, as we know, is perhaps the most important part of our training, yet the one thing we so often neglect. It is where we recover and get stronger for the next time.
3 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
While there are often reasons beyond our control for not getting enough sleep (kids being 9 of the top 10 reasons), there are some easy things you can do to ensure you’re creating a healthy sleep environment. The best sleeping conditions involve a dark, quiet room (white noise is good), that’s cool and free of distractions (like your smart phone).
Here are three other things that can improve your sleep:
1. A Good Mattress and Sheets
I’ve written about how much I love our Bear Mattress, and after spending nearly 12 years on a sub par mattress, I can’t stress this enough. Spend the money to get a high quality mattress. Good sheets also make a huge difference in how well you sleep.
2. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
We all know that caffeine is a stimulant, intended to get you going. Caffeine can have lasting effects for up to six hours, so if you’re drinking it in the late afternoon to stay awake at work, it’s probably hindering your sleep at night. Alcohol too close to bed also interrupts your sleep cycle, preventing the all important stage 3 restorative sleep.
Leading researchers have suggested that going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day is one of the best ways to get a better quality of sleep. Routine also helps your body prepare to sleep once you finally hit the pillow. I try to get in bed between 9:30-10:00 p.m. every night, with lights out by 10:30 p.m., and have found that I fall asleep pretty quickly.
Your Sleeping Tricks
How are your sleeping habits? Good, bad, O.K.? What could you do today to set yourself up for more and better sleep?