If you are anything like me, you are constantly waiting for that elusive good night sleep. You go to bed 8 hours before you have to wake up, withouta perpetual to do list running through your mind, and you fall asleep within minutes, waking up rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world. I’m 30 years old and I can count the number of times this has happened on one hand. But, as athletes, sleep is about more than just rest – it’s about recovery and performance.
Poor sleep clearly reduces our ability to perform at our peak. Also, lack of sleep can alter glucose metabolism, causing poor muscle recovery. Insufficient sleep causes immune function to decline, leaving us more susceptible to infections. Lack of sleep can also cause mental effects, like anxiety, poor concentration, and irritability, which can make any workout seem worse (I’m sure I’m not the only person that can be cantankerous on an early morning run).
Sleep needs are obviously individual. Some people can function perfectly on 5 hours, while others get ornery if they get less than 8. You know what is right for you. But remember, you may require more sleep during your training. Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier every night – it could make a big difference!
Some recommendations for better sleep
-Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even weekends.
-If you are going to nap, only take a 20 minute power nap. Anything longer can interfere with your night time sleep and can leave you feel more tired when you wake up.
-Have trouble quieting your thoughts long enough to fall asleep? Try writing down your to do list before bed to allow yourself to relax.
-Regular exercise, like running, leads to better sleep, so stay active!