Well not really THE big sleep. But A big sleep. Right?
I’ve found that there are three factors that help improve my running. Working out regularly (duh). Eating nutritiously. And…sleeping well. Oh dear. That one piece of the puzzle often seems out of reach.
We all know that we sleep better when we run regularly. If you’re like me, you find that you often can’t sleep at all if you don’t run. (Say it’s not just me.)
But I’m finding more and more that it also works the other way. I run better when I get enough sleep.
Sleep helps my body recover from a hard run, heal the little strains running puts on it, even reabsorb the water I need to avoid dehydration.
And apparently it’s not just my imagination that has me running better after a good night’s sleep:
Research from Stanford published in SLEEP reported that increased sleeping time can improve athletic performance. In the study, researchers had basketball players maintain their regular sleep schedule of six to nine hours for up to four weeks. After that, they were asked to sleep 10 hours each night for five to seven weeks. Speed improved significantly (16.2 seconds verses 15.5 second for 282-foot sprints); shooting accuracy improved and the players said they felt their practices improved after six weeks of lengthening nighttime sleep length.
You read as well as I do. You see that this study was on basketball players not on runners, but still. They were faster. More accurate.
But all that said… What can we do to go to sleep and stay there? (I thought of this last night as I was lying on my back staring at the ceiling. Surprise!)
Some common sense advice I found (thanks Mr. Google) included: Don’t go to bed hungry. Don’t exercise right before bed. Set a regular bedtime schedule and routine. And everybody’s favorite…avoid caffeine.
To tell the truth, I don’t like any of this advice. I don’t like to eat before bed. I like to stretch then. (Does that count as exercise?) I dislike routine. And I love caffeine.
I guess the bottom line is…How badly do I want to sleep? I’ll think about it and get back to you. Til then…good luck with all that.