A third of our lives are spent sleeping and we all know that it is essential for mental and physical wellbeing. This is even truer for runners! But many of us still fail to get the number of hours that we need to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to run the day our way! If you are one of these people, let us help you with the following sleep tips!
- Give the Wrong Drinks a Wide Berth
Avoid drinking coffee after lunch so that the caffeine will run its course during the day and not be in your system to keep you awake in the evening. Caffeine interrupts the flow of melatonin which is the hormone that sends us to sleep and can stay in your blood for 6-8 hours.
Another type of drink which is detrimental to deep sleep is alcohol. While alcohol reduces the time it takes to fall asleep, it drastically reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is the most restorative and important phrase of the night time activity.
- Darken your Environment
While blackout curtains may seem expensive, they are a great investment if you want to cut out any light (and even noise) from entering your room at night especially if you live on a street that is brightly lit. However if the cost is too prohibitive, consider a good quality eye mask which is not only cheaper but also far more portable if you need to travel.
Some people also find it difficult to sleep due to noise in their immediate environment and in this situation, the right sized earplugs, white noise machines or noise-canceling headphones would be worth experimenting with.
Once you have darkened your bedroom from external sources, you should look at doing it internally too – and the biggest culprit is the handphone! Most phones now have a night shift setting so that there is a lot less white and yellow light shining out of your device mimicking daylight. Be sure you activate this setting two hours before you sleep.
- Be Comfortable in the Bedroom
Find a room temperature that is comfortable for you. While experts suggest that the ideal bedroom temperature should be 19 degrees Celsius, this can vary significantly between genders and ages as well as between adults and children. Our bodies rely on a drop in temperature as an environmental cue to fall asleep which is why a warm bedroom can lead to a lot of tossing and turning instead of a good night of quality sleep. For some, wearing socks to sleep also help as people with cold feet sometimes struggle with insomnia.
It also goes without saying that you should also find the right bed, mattress, pillow and comforter. For example, a certain type of pillow might be all the rage but, other people might have difficulty with the density, shape and material as we are all, of course, quite different. If you think this is an issue for you, keep a sleep diary where you record the duration and quality of your sleep (based on how refreshed you feel when you wake up) while changing different variables like pillows.
- Set a Sleep Routine
After establishing a comfortable environment, it is just as important to have a good sleep schedule. The most important aspect of this is establishing a regular time to go to bed and wake up. By sticking to a regular timetable, your body will adapt to a sleep cycle that, over time, will wake you up just before your alarm feeling refreshed.
It is also useful for your body to have various activities that act as triggers before you sleep. Common relaxation techniques include doing yoga, relaxing muscle groups via stretching, reading a book, taking a hot bath or mediating and deep breathing. Once the body has been introduced to these triggers enough times, it will automatically begin the process for sleep.
Jeff’s tip: Go for a run during the day. This has a double positive effect because natural sunlight during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm (or body’s internal clock) healthy and exercise has proven to be more effective than most drugs in helping people to fall asleep!
Further Help – If you want to know more why sleep is even more important for athletes than for normal people, please take a look at this article: https://totalrunningclub.com/sleep-and-athletes/
Do you consistently get 7-9 hours of sleep? Do you schedule sleep into your training plan? What is your best tip to prepare for sleep? Let us know in the comments below.