Beep. Beep. Beep. There goes the alarm clock yet again (sigh). Is it time for you to get up or time to hit snooze (five more minutes please). The “right” answer more complicated than you think. Everyone knows sleep is important and that eight hours of sleep per night is the magic number to feeling well-rested. But, is that really enough shut eye?
We’ve all had that run, the one where you can barely lift up your feet because you did not get enough sleep the night before. Which asks the question, “how much sleep do we really need, especially as runners?”
Our friends over at Casper have put together several tips on how to sleep like a champion.
The average adult gets 5 to 7 hours a night of sleep, but many pro-athletes are scoring between 10 to 12 hours. Yes, 10 to 12 hours, that is almost twice as much as the average person! Why is that? These athletes know that rest is just important as their rigorous training schedule and strict diet. So it makes sense that an active individual needs more sleep! “Sleep like a pro”, takes on a whole new meaning.
In a study of Stanford University athletes, University football players showed an adequate amount of sleep improved their 40-yard dash times by 2.1 percent. So it’s safe to assume that including enough sleep in your fitness routine could essentially improve your 5K or half marathon times! Which means, a PR for you, and a PR for you, and a PR for you (thanks, Oprah) and we’d have an extra excuse to pop those bottles of bubbly to celebrate!
Casper’s team of experts recommend that active individuals get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each evening to help your body recovery. As active/working individuals those numbers seem impossible to attain and sleep is usually the first thing sacrificed when our busy lives take over! But, it is possible to get more sleep, if you make time for it and keep yourself on schedule. Make sleep a priority because you do need it.
Where Your Sleep Matters
Where you are sleeping is important too! Make sure your room is dark, your mattress is supportive, the temperature is cool, and be free of distractions (turn off that tv and put down that iphone).
According to The Better Sleep Council “how long a mattress will last”, depends on several things, but most importantly the amount of use and the original quality of mattress. The general guideline for replacing your mattress is every (7) seven years. Typically, after this length of time, you are no longer getting the best comfort or support from your mattress.
Some signs that you need a new mattress include: aches and pains, sleeping better elsewhere (the couch, a different bed, the floor), your mattress shows visible signs of overuse, and it is older than seven years. One other mattress tip we love, is evaluate your mattress each time you change your clocks.
Take a Nap
Yes, you read that correctly: quick naps are important! Especially, before race day! Have you ever struggled to stay focused, it could be because your are tired. So, instead of reaching for that third or fourth cup of coffee, try a 20-30 minute nap to reset and refresh.
In the United States daily naps are a typical part of the culture, but in other countries many businesses shut down for a short period in the afternoon and everyone takes a few minutes for themselves. We personally love this concept, especially on long run days.
Daily short naps will not make up for inadequate or a poor night’s sleep, but they can help improve your mood, alertness and performance.
Make sleep part of your training schedule. Set a bedtime and stick with it. If you need a little reminder to get in adequate “shut eye” try using a bedtime app (there is an app for everything) we use the one on our iPhone and love. Remember, logging those zzz’s is just as important as logging miles.