I’m a little behind in my Runner’s World reading, so on Sunday between napping and watching the NASCAR race with Dreamboat, I caught up and got through the May issue. You can find the article online here. It was a fun read, with photos of runners yawning (yes, those photos made ME yawn) and had a lot of tips about how sleep can make you stronger, how sleep can make you faster, and how sleep can make you feel better over all.
And given how miserable and exhausted I have felt (depression or not) I read the article with the kind of focus that I had when I was spending hours writing my first novel that has yet to be published. Extreme focus, desperate desire to understand, and wanting to learn a lesson here.
I really like sleep. Dreamboat and I spent a lot of money on a super comfy mattress and some amazing sheets. I spent a fortune on a 100% latex pillow to help my head and my neck. We keep our bedroom cool by not opening the blinds and leaving the ceiling fan on while we sleep. It’s awesome. It’s those nights where we rare NOT sleeping that I get grumpy.
If I sleep lousy, I skip my run… and then I feel bad for not running. But sleep is more important, I always thought. And because of the Runner’s World magazine article, I know now that my thoughts on sleeping are ACCURATE.
“We think if you’re really a good athlete, that means you’re tough and you’ll take whatever life throws your way,” John Caldwell, Ph.D says. “Part of being tough is not needing to sleep.”
Did you know that scientifically there is no real proof as to why the human body needs sleep, other than it does? Lack of sleep can affect us physically and mentally. We are slower, more sluggish; our mental game is not on the ball and our reactions to things are slower. Cortisol is created at a much higher rate and the normal person fighting fatigue and sleep deprivation is unhealthier than their well rested counterpart.
So why is it that some people think that going on 4-5 hours sleep is not just normal, but expected? I know I can’t do it. And if you are working toward peak fitness, you shouldn’t either.
I can’t tell you how many hours of sleep I need every night, but I can tell you that I feel my best when I am in bed by 10pm. When my alarm goes off at 6am, if my night has been a good solid deep sleep, I wake up feeling rested and alert. If I didn’t get enough deep sleep, I feel exhausted and hit the snooze button. And on my overnight days (Saturdays) if I take a nap after work, I’m good till midnight. If not, I’m crashing by 9pm. Either way, I am usually not out of bed any sooner than 11am on Sundays (which makes for super steamy long runs, I’ll have you know.)
And I’m not one to scoff at sleeping in instead of running in the morning. It’s no secret that I’m NOT a morning person. Getting up at 6am is a stretch already, and thankfully Dreamboat has accepted the fact that there are just going to be evenings where I go and run and it will cut into our time together. But sleep is more important.
And did you know? The more you work out, the more sleep you need. So those nights during the long run portions of my training where I was falling asleep at 9pm is actually normal! Who had thunk it? It’s a good thing to determine f you are training for something hard like a marathon or a tri. Factor in some sleep adjustments into your training.
Take a moment and consider your own sleep: Do you get enough every night? Do you feel rested during the day or do you feel like you need a siesta instead of an afternoon snack? Do you feel rested in the morning when your alarm goes off, or do you need to hit the snooze a few dozen times? Sleep is just as important as the number of miles you are running or the number of reps you are pulling. Make sure you are getting enough!