Everybody knows the significance of sleep’s role in our health and wellbeing; however busy, modern day life can make getting a full night’s sleep tricky. Studies have shown that the optimal level of sleep for runners is eight hours but this figure depends on each individual athlete’s needs.
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep is as significant to your performance as your diet and training programme, therefore it is necessary to award it the same level of attention. The following guide will show the importance of sleep to your training regime and how it will make you a stronger, faster runner.
When we sleep, our bodies repair and adapt to the stresses of running, helping your cells to regenerate for the next training session. Subsequently, research shows that the more you sleep, the more this regeneration process will take place, enabling your running performance to improve.
During deep sleep, the Human Growth Hormone is released to help your body repair damaged tissue and build stronger muscles. If you have insufficient deep sleep, your body will fail to recover, making it harder to achieve your potential at your next running session.
As a runner, it is important to be well hydrated but good hydration levels will also enable you to enjoy a good night’s sleep and speed up your recovery time. In general, we need to drink two to three litres of liquid each day. Your hydration levels are reflected in the colour of your urine, with pale yellow coloured urine indicating that you are within one percent of your optimal hydration level.
Did you know that getting a sufficient amount of sleep may boost the weight loss benefits of running? A good night’s sleep will help to keep your hunger signals under control, making it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight.
Mental toughness is important for runners and sleep deprivation can have a negative impact when a runner trains. Increased concentration enables you to focus on your pace and reduces your risk of injury from tripping over.
HOW TO ACHIEVE A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
- Try to establish a good routine, where you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. If you have an irregular sleeping pattern, your body will struggle to learn when it has permission to slow down and go to sleep. If you struggle to sleep for eight hours each night, try to take a 10-15 minute nap in the afternoon. This will enable you to feel refreshed and rejuvenated, without compromising your ability to sleep at night or making you feeling groggy, unlike a longer nap.
- Try to avoid caffeinated products after 6pm, such as tea, coffee and cola drinks.
- Set yourself a technology curfew and don’t spend time with electrical devices such as a mobile phone, computer or television, before you go to bed. The screens’ lighting stimulates your brain and confuses it into thinking that it is time to wake up, compromising your ability to have a restful night’s sleep. It is important to relax before you go to sleep, therefore it would be more beneficial for you to use this opportunity to take an indulgent bath or read a book.