There are many misconceptions about sleep. We live in a time where society views sleep as a luxury, and relates the idea of strength to how little sleep one can survive on. All these unreasonable ideas make us overlook the truth that sleep is as important as training and nutrition for any runner. After all, science has revealed that it is during sleep that the body recuperates from all the training you are putting it through, and therefore makes you a better runner.
Clock your hours
We can’t deny that all of us have days of insufficient sleep, and we think we can make up for it over the weekend. But even that one night of not enough shut-eye has a definite impact performance and overall health. Anything less than 8 to 9 hours is considered inadequate for an average person, and especially a runner. It is during these hours that the body goes into repair mode, and also balances hormones. So if you wake up cranky or in pain, you know you haven’t given yourself enough time for recovery. The result? Lesser immunity, lack of concentration and a higher risk of injury.
Cut the distractions
Carrying work home, not switching off smartphones and putting other things ahead of rest causes erratic sleep. Distracted sleep is as good as no sleep at all, because the mind is constantly stimulated. The internal 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, referred to as the ‘biological clock’ or ‘circadian rhythm’, is regulated by processes in the brain that react to hours spent awake and the changes between light and dark. This clock gets disrupted by irregular sleeping patterns and exposure to artificial light at night. This includes the light from electronic devices like phones, tablets, TVs etc. So even if you’ve slept for nine hours, but woke up in between to check your phone notifications, you might end up groggy and disoriented.
Many professional runners take quick naps after their runs or training sessions. Though this might seem idealistic for a regular working individual, the option should be utilized if available. Many companies provide dormitories for their employees. The concept of the power nap is also popular for its effectiveness. So if you can take a quick snooze during your breaks, you will notice the rise in your efficiency in everyday tasks as well as the boost in your running performance.
Here are a few immediate tips to help you make this important lifestyle change right away!
i. Go to bed an hour earlier than you already do, and make this a habit. The cumulative effect
ii. Avoid stimulants like coffee, sugary drinks, alcohol and sweets. That way, you won’t stay
iii. Set a deadline when it comes to answering your phone or replying to work email. If your of this will do magic to your body, and you won’t have to compromise on your run for the sake of catching up on sleep! awake longer than you should, nor will you struggle with hangovers and uncomfortable after-effects once you wake up. mind is constantly going to be distracted, you will miss out on the sound sleep that you need.
iv. Learn about sleep hygiene! This includes dark rooms, no night lamps, less sound and fewer distractions. If you have a habit of browsing the internet before you nap, or reading a book by the bedside lamp, start working on killing that right away!
Monitor your sleep habits and remember that the more hours you get, the better it is for your body. Sleep is never a weakness, and is the best way to overcome stress. Though Robert Frost did once say that he had “Miles to go before I sleep”, turn that around. Sleep longer, and then there will be no stopping you!