Health Benefits Of A Good Night’s Sleep

Everyone needs a good night’s rest, but a runner cannot do without it. There are three cardinal points in running well; they are training, good nutrition, and good rest. If you tamper with any of these, you may end up not performing as good as you should.

Sleep is not a luxury for the lazy and the weak; it is a necessity for any and every human being. The truth is that your body needs that sleep to re hydrate and to repair damaged and worn out tissues, your health relies heavily on your ability to have an excellent rest. The general rule is that the better your sleep, the healthier you are going to be the next day, and you will reap the health benefits of a good night’s sleep.

Why a good night’s sleep is so important to us and for our running

• Re hydration of the body tissues

The period of rest allows for better re hydration of the tissues, and every athlete needs that almost more than everyone else. The way we use our muscles when we run makes them get easily dehydrated, and the fact that you drink water doesn’t mean that your tissues are alright. You need that period when you are not moving the muscles. Re hydration is also very important because it helps to completely remove the traces of pyruvic and lactic acids that build up in the tissues as a result of exertion over a period. If you do not re hydrate well, you risk a build up and eventual breakdown of those tissues.

• Full recovery from injuries and strains

Your muscles need to be completely at rest for them to fully recover from the effect of long hours of training and running and sleep is the best time to get that much-needed stillness.

• Replacement of worn tissues and formation of new cells

The best time to get new tissues and to replace the worn-out ones is when you get to sleep. When you are at rest, it is easier for your body cells to be replaced, especially the cells of the muscular tissues that are used for running. A good night’s sleep is one of the best ways for you to stay healthy enough to run for as long as you need to.

• Mental acuteness and learning

Running is not just a physical activity. Your mind is actually where the race starts and ends. You need to train your mind to get used to the tone, the grip, the balance and the mental endurance to pain and pressure. You need sleep to get yourself in the right frame of mind and to train your mind to remember and recall what your body needs to do per time. Also, sleep has a way of helping you get your mind off the things that have been bordering you; it helps you to enjoy a relief from emotional burdens temporarily.

• Hormonal balance

Once you are not getting enough sleep, your body begins to alter the production of hormones in response to stress and these hormones will make you eat more and to increase weight which you do not need as a runner. One of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep is a balanced and enhances the hormonal system that supports your sport.

Tips on how to get a good night’s sleep

• Make It Consistent

Just as you train your body consistently to stand the pain and to endure pressure, you need to teach it to manage sleep consistently until it becomes a part of your daily routine. Avoid trying to sleep in at the weekend after a week of minimum sleep. Your body needs to get proper bed training, and that comes with consistency. Stop trying to fool your body, get a proper rest every day.

• Do What You Have To Do

Most runners love to get up very early in the morning to get the best of the day before sunrise, this means that you are cutting your sleep. No problems getting up early just make sure you compensate for that either by going to bed earlier or by having a good siesta during the day. However you decide to do it, make sure you compensate for the lost time.

• Start And Keep A Routine

One of the best ways to get a good night’s rest is to develop a sleep routine that helps the body to relax. You may need to decide on a dark room, use of alarm clock, background relaxing music, soft and cosy bed, and a warm pair of pyjamas. Repeat the same procedure at the same time every day for the next fourteen days, and you will see how much you are relaxed when you sleep. Getting the health benefits of a good night’s rest will depend on your discipline and dedication to what you want.

• Start Small And Increase Overtime

The changes you need to make may not all come at the same time; you may need to start by going to bed 30 minutes earlier for one week and increase it to 1 hour for the next week until you get the number of hours you have decided to work with. Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t happen by magic, you may need time to adjust your lifestyle and for your body to get adjusted to the new resting pattern. Be patient.

• Get Strict With Yourself

One of the hardest forms of government is self-government. If you can lead yourself to do the right thing; you are likely going to succeed in life. If you want to get a good sleep, you need to discipline yourself to keep your commitments to yourself and to what your routines. Do not make excuses, stick to your timing. Whatever can tamper with your sleep habits should be dealt with ruthlessly as at when due. Do not leave the dishes or the lunch packing for just before bed time. If you want to enjoy your night, do what you need to do with your day.

• Avoid Stimulants

If you want to sleep, it is logical enough to stay off any form of stimulants. This includes anything that can tamper with the body or the mind’s ability to relax immediately. You need to stay off alcohol, sweets, soft drinks, energy drinks, social media, television, and anything with caffeine. If you stimulate your mind at bedtime, you will invariably reduce the quality and the quantity of your rest.

• Don’t Shy Away From A Siesta

If you ever have the opportunity to include a siesta into your daily routine, you will be better for it. Even if you cannot have it every day, you will gain much from a strategic afternoon nap every once in a while.

Sleep And Insomnia 

A good run can be the solution to your insomnia if you allow nature to take its course. If you correctly time your training time, you can end up enjoying your sleep too.

You need to study yourself and see how you respond to running and exercise and you will be able to time yourself from running to sleeping appropriately. Personally, I cannot fall asleep until 3 hours after my run, and I do not feel drowsy after a run. But for a friend of mine, she can barely stay awake 1 hour after running. So, study yourself and design something that works for you.

How Long Should A Runner Sleep?

When it comes to how long you should sleep, it depends on the individual. However, it is recommended that a runner should not have less than 7.5 hours of sleep every day. Also, there is this calculation that might come in handy in trying to figure out the amount of sleep you need.

Add the numbers of hours of your running to the normal time you sleep, and you will have something healthy enough to get you started. For instance, if you run for 2 hours every day, you need to add an extra 2 hours to the number of hours you will be sleeping. It is not scientifically proven to be the best calculation for running and sleeping but it has worked for me like magic, and I have been a more composed runner ever since I started using it.

Avoid Medication

Seek to make your sleep as natural as possible. Do not use sedatives or any substance except it is necessary and at the prescription of a physician. If you want your running days to be eventful and long, you need to hold tenaciously to a healthy and natural lifestyle for as long as possible.

Sleep may look like what comes naturally to most people, but you need to be deliberate at how you handle it so you could get the best out of your running days. Remember, a good run does not guarantee a good night’s rest, if you see signs of fatigue and muscular overuse, you may need to fall back on the efficacy of a good night’s rest.

How many hours do you sleep for please leave a comment below.

30 thoughts on “Health Benefits Of A Good Night’s Sleep”

  1. I’m the worst trying to get to sleep if I know im going for a run the next morning! It’s like my body is telling me “DONT DO IT” but when I do get a good night’s rest I feel much better in my run and normally knock some brilliant time off.
    I can definitely agree with everything you have said in this article

    1. Thanks for the comment Matthew I always train when the train once the kids have gone to bed, at the time I am very tired. So when I am finished you would think I would be tired and straight to bed but I am the opposite and have bags full of energy.

  2. Oh dear. This is a bit of a wake up call. I typically get around 6 to 6.5 hours of sleep a night! That’s at least 1 hour to 1hour and a half less than the advised above. That does explain a lot. Earlier nights for me I think. Thanks for the advice. I’m glad I found it.

    1. I can’t understand how people can have such little sleep I love to sleep the more the merrier and I feel so energised after. Thanks for the comments.

  3. A good night sleep is vital for the body. I always have one hour siesta, and I like to run in the afternoon, just before sundown. I exercise for an hour and in the night, I have to be honest, I sleep like a baby for 7 hours. I also try to have a light dinner, and I hydrate my self just before going to sleep, I drink at least 2 lts of water.

    1. I can’t sleep in the afternoon as I look after my son and kind of sleep with one eye open lol. When I was younger I always had a nap in the afternoon and it gave me a boost for the rest of the day. Thanks for the comments.

  4. I am actually pretty good about sleeping a full 8 hours most nights. Whenever I have a long run, I can usually fall asleep faster than when I don’t run that day. I’ll have to be better about not sleeping in on the weekend because I can definitely be bad about that! I can definitely see how a lack of sleep can put a mental strain on you, I have certainly felt that when I’ve been sick and gotten barely any sleep and felt like my brain was mush! Do you have any suggestions on how to fall asleep faster?

    1. clear your mind don’t go to bed thinking about anything, a good routine before bed time and a warm drink. I hope this helps and thanks for the comments.

  5. I think this a great article. So a good night sleep can make us a better runner, right? A good night sleep is very important for our body. Just like you say above, a lot thing happens when we are sleeping. I rarely sleep 7,5 hours a day usually, I sleep 5 – 6 hours a day. But I will try your advice and I think I think it will need some time to get used to. Thanks for this information

    1. The more sleep you get a more happier you and more drive to accomplish the things you want to do in life. I you are struggling get a good routine in place before bed time and this will defiantly make a difference. Thanks for the comments.

  6. Thanks for this comprehensive article on why sleep is so important James.
    Though you focus on runners, the same applies for everyone.
    I tend to work on my computer until late evening and then my brain is active when I try to get to sleep. I normally sleep for 5 to 6 hours and then lay awake for an hour or two.
    Sometime I do catch up however.
    Thanks for stressing the importance of sleep.
    Cheers

    1. wow that is very little sleep I have to sleep for at least 8 hours per day or I am not focused enough though. I do have the kids to look after through the day though lol. Thanks for the comments.

  7. Sleep is important especially as you get older. At 54 I take a nap for about 45 minutes a day. I also started using a cpap five years ago which helps oxygenate your body. I found that alone helped me immensely. I Also don’t push myself as hard. I don’t run but do swim and take water aerobics. My dad was a runner who pushed too hard during a half marathon. That all or nothing attitude caused an injury, depression and finally his suicide. Its just not worth it to go all out when not prepared. Great tips you brought up but it reminded me of my dad who passed away at 43. I hope more runners take your advice and run with it.

    1. Thanks for the comments and I do agree with you everyone does have to know their limits to prevent injury. I am glad that that you are also looking at my article from a stand point of not been a runner as the information I give can be used for a lot of different sports. I am sorry to hear about your Dad my farther passed away at a young age as well and it can be hard on you.

  8. Hi James,
    Nice post. I agree its very important to get a good nights sleep. I have been getting about 6-7 hours lately which isn’t quite enough. I have to say that when I exercise and run I do sleep much better compared to days when I don’t exercise. Also a nap in the afternoon is also a good idea and helps a lot. Thanks again for the article.

    1. For me it just depends on how tried my body is. If I am already over tired I sleep like a log, you know what I mean, the same position all night lol. On the other hand though some times running wakes me up and charges my body even when I am tired before I go out for a run. Thanks for the comments.

  9. Very true, sleep is so important for an athlete’s health, well being and recovery. You mention that I can supplement with a nap instead of getting a full nights sleep.. I would be curious to know if there is a big difference hormonally between napping and sleeping at night, or even sleeping in late versus getting to bed early. Good post!

    1. Don’t get me wrong I a full sleep is always the way to go but if your energy level are down or you have don’t have enough hours in the day to get 8 hours sleep then you can use the afternoon nap as a top up. Thanks for the comments.

  10. Excellent article, I am guilty of getting an average of 6 hours of sleep but that is mostly because I have a toddler who may decide to wake up at 3am because she want a story to be read LOL and true story, prior to having a baby I used to manage 8 hours of sleep I was cool calm collected and had a sharp memory, now I am all caffeinated and need list after list to get basic tasks done, Just shows you how important good sleep actually is!

    1. Its i hard with kids I have a nearly 2 year old and he still gets up through the night. I find it helps that some times I sleep when he sleeps on a afternoon or I go to bed earlier o catch up so I have enough energy to get me through the day. Thanks for the comments.

  11. Hi there

    This is big for me at the moment because I really need to restructure my sleeping times.
    I’m all of the place and I know information you have provided here will help me out.

    Thanks

  12. Thanks for sharing your tips James, I found them really helpful as I find it difficult to get a good nights sleep sometimes. I think the main things I need to focus on is discipline and sticking to a routine. I always find myself sleeping early one day, then sleeping really late the next. But I’m sure if I create a routine I’ll find it much easier to have a good nights sleep.

    Thanks again for sharing your tips.

    1. If that is not possible for you and you are tired through the day have a power nap and you will wake up feeling refreshed and ready for your day. Thanks for the comments.

  13. It took me about 3 months to get my sleep pattern organized! I thought that exercise would help me to sleep more, but the quality of my sleep did not improve until I developed the pattern of going to bed at the same time every night, using blackout curtains, and a sleep mask. And also a blue light inhibitor on my phone! Thank you for more tips on improving sleep.

    1. You are so right some times it can take months to get your sleeping pattern right, you some times can be doing all I have said in my article and still nothing. I think when you have the majority of these steps in place the only other thing that can help you is perseverance. I have known people take longer than 3 months to get there, but keep going. Thanks for the comments.

  14. This is great advice – sleep is something I really need to work on. I average 5 – 6 hours a night but can wake up 3 or 4 times within that. Not a good sleeper but I’m taking on board your suggestions. Thank you. Ps not a real runner – just a beginner but enjoying it

    1. You are a real runner if you are just starting out or a seasoned pro. I think when we sleep it is very hard some times to forget about all our thoughts we have had through the day. Too oftenb I find myself dreaming through the the night and wake up in the morning like I have not slept at all, as long as we are trying different tactics to help us this will make a difference. Thanks for the comments.

  15. James,
    Great post. I have a difficult time sleeping; as a matter of fact, I am currenty functioning on 2 hours of sleep daily, weekly. My doctors tells me that I have to “learn” to sleep again…What the hell does that mean. Anyway as you can image, I am not too alert during the day.

    1. Wow only two hours sleep that must be so hard, I think what your doctor means you need to look in to new routines and try new techniques to try get you back on the track with your sleep, go for trial and error. Thanks for the comments

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