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.
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.