Sleep – The Overlooked Element

Last week I was exhausted. No matter what I did, I was ready for a nap by mid-afternoon, and ready for bed by 8. I’ve been tracking my sleep with my FitBit for about a year, and have realized I am a restless sleeper, which means I need more hours in bed to get the same amount of sleep.

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I’ve always known sleep was important (even if I ignored it for the years I was working 16-18 hours a day, and sleeping 4-5 hours on a good night), but as I’ve gotten more into running, and training, I’m realizing exactly how important it is. Sleep deprivation (even just an hour or so less than what your body needs is deprivation) has a huge impact on your body, and can keep you from reaching your goals.

It’s incredible to think that just sleeping a little less than you should makes you feel depressed, increases your carb cravings and puts you at physical health risks. If you’re trying to reach goals, whether it’s training for a marathon, setting a 5K PR, or losing weight, skimping on sleep will easily take you off track, and leave you wondering where you went wrong.

So, how can you make sure you’re getting enough sleep:

Know your needs. Every body is different. You may not need 8 hours of sleep, but your training partner might. How can you find out? For several days get as much sleep as you can (this works great on vacation or a long weekend), then let yourself wake naturally, and see how many hours you slept.

Prepare for sleep. Get into a nighttime routine that lets you wind down, and mentally prepare for sleep. Aim to put your electronics away an hour before bed. Read a real book, do yoga, take a calming bath or meditate. Find what works for you. I’m a big fan of Sleepytime tea and a hot lavender bath.

Get your thoughts out. Whether you journal, talk to your significant other or best friend, or meditate, get your worries, your brilliant ideas, and your triumphs out of your head so that your mind can rest easily. I love my Intention Journal and keep it by my bed for those evening thoughts or when I wake up with a great idea or mantra I just need to get down on paper!

Get your sweat on. Getting a workout in regularly is a a great way to tire your body out. Our bodies were MADE to move, and since most of us spend more time sitting than we should, it’s important to get energy out. Find something that will make you want to do it regularly is the key. Try as many things as you can until you find the thing, or things that make you itch to do it again!

Get comfortable. Keep your bedroom clear of distractions and get comfortable. Make sure your bedroom is cooler than it is during the day, you’ve got layers on your bed to warm up or cool off as needed. Also, choose a comfy set of PJs that make you think dreamy not get sweaty (that’s right, get rid of the old shorts and t-shirts).

 

So, now that you’re prepared, get ready to add hours of sleep to your training journals or nutrition logs. Note how you feel each day, and see how it correlates to your sleep. I bet you’ll notice you eat healthier, can work harder, and see some big improvements with regular nights of good sleep.

What’s your biggest sleep challenge?

Do you have a nighttime routines, if so, share some tips!

Do you notice differences in your nutrition or training when you haven’t gotten enough sleep?

– Image Source: Mind Body Green. April 2013. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8649/this-is-your-body-without-sleep-infographic.html

 

 

2 thoughts on “Sleep – The Overlooked Element

  1. So interesting because I was just asking on Twitter this morning about how people sleep before a race and then I visit bloglovin’ and see this!

    I am a very good sleeper, however the night before a race I CANNOT SLEEP. It really bothers me because I know how important it is to get a good night sleep before a race but I just can’t turn my mind off, whether it’s a 5k or a half, whether I’m running for “fun” or trying to achieve a PR. It’s something that really bothers me because I know I could probably do better if I slept well the night before.

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