How much would you pay for a night of sleep that left you feeling so well rested you felt 10 years younger (or at least not sore like a distance runner) upon waking each morning?
Really this is the debate we all have each time we begin the inevitable hunt for a mattress. David and I had agreed a new mattress was a must when our next move happens, but seriously the options are staggering and I have enough things to figure out on a daily basis without knowing if I should go softer or harder, coils, springs…ugh.
Intrigue was followed by, “hmmm but what if if messes with my sleep”. However this was no risk so I might as well try it right?!
Sleep is the one component not listed on training plans that should be! You get up extra early to fit in the miles and slog through sprints when you’re tired, but without placing the same emphasis on sleep your efforts might all be in vain when you come down sick race week!!
A sleep study at Stanford, noted that athletes who “increased their sleep time ran faster sprints and hit more accurate tennis shots than they did while getting their usual amount of sleep.”
Let’s start with the the general good and bad of sleep or lack of sleep:
- Sleep is when your body produces growth hormone which stimulates muscle growth and repair
- In sleep deprivation you produce less and your muscles pay the price
- Sleep is when your body synthesizes protein, creates new cells and repairs tissue, boosts your immune system…and on and on go the benefits.
- In sleep deprivation combined with workout exertion you’re more likely to get sick and of course all your runs feel crummy
- In sleep deprivation we feel hungrier add that to distance runner and it explains the never ending runger.
- In sleep deprivation the body is less effective at converting carbs to glycogen — hello hitting the wall!
So how much sleep do you really need???
The general rule is to add 1 minuter per mile you are running per week. So if you need 8 hours sans training and are now doing 40 miles a week, aim for 8 hours and 40 minutes.
A few different studies have said that endurance athletes need a minimum of 8 hours, but many need more…but you’ll find many high profile athletes who say eating a certain way has decreased their sleep needs and sciences seems to back the idea that long term runners appear to have higher quality sleep.
I thought this tip from Asics was the best I’d seen on find your perfect sleep:
For the most part I am a really awesome sleeper. if it was a sport I might win for best ability to fall asleep and then not move for 8 hours promptly waking without an alarm. Gawd I freaking love it.
However, lately I started waking up very consistently at 2AM and could not for the life of me go back to sleep. Which lead me of course to the Google…is there anything the Google can’t tell you? Since I have already done the research and in fact tested it out, I’ll save you the time!
Waking Up And Can’t Go Back to Sleep?
One key thing is not to just rely on drugs, without getting to the root cause you are just masking the issue and it will likely persist or overcome your drugs at some point.
I found a few different things which could be the cause:
1. Blood Sugar Drop – Are you eating dinner early and then nothing prior to sleep or maybe a carb heavy snack? Roughly 2-3 AM your blood sugar will drop which spikes cortisol and BOOM awake! Great article on Dr Deborah MD with details.
2. Overactive Mind – If you get in to things like Holistic health they point out that waking between 1-3Am consistently is a sign of frustration and anger that aren’t being dealt with during the day because this is when your body should be detoxing your live. Is there something or someone toxic in your life that you need to get rid of? Have you been eating things that might be burdening your body?
The second issue is usually easy to pinpoint if you are also having issues with mood, fatigue, digestive trouble, and even eye strain.
Can’t Fall Asleep?
Let’s look at how to sleep better with these tips:
8 natural sleep aid remedies>>
No time for extra sleep try hypnosis (it’s like a power nap on steroids)!!
9 foods to help you sleep >>
Restorative poses for sleep from The Philosophie >>
Then of course there is your mattress…which is what started the whole idea for this post on sleep!
The focus here was sleep during training, try not to get too stressed about any sleeplessness the night before a race. You’ll have enough adrenaline to keep you going if you’ve been getting good sleep in the previous months of training!
When was the last time you got a new mattress?
Are you a sound sleeper?
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