For those who read Runner’s World, you probably read the article in May’s issue called “Go to Sleep Already” by Cindy Kuzma. I literally just read the article today, only a month late… I even took a highlighter and marked important points to me and then I thought about it and decided it might not be a bad idea to blog about it and share the information.
Obviously, the article targets runners, but applies to anyone that is physically active. From those that do at home programs like T25 and P90X3 to those that do Olympic lifting and Crossfit to those that do Ironmans and rowing competitions, “bouts of hard training may cause drowsiness”… Literally!
Here are some main points from the article:
- The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep (40% of Americans sleep 6 or less hours a night)
- When you don’t get the appropriate amount of sleep, the debt builds much like a debit card
- The human growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland during deep sleep is what repairs muscle and bone (if they aren’t repairing, that makes you more susceptible to injury)
- Sleep is when your mind catalogs all the details it’s taken in throughout the day. Those details include the way your muscles and nerves work together to power through strides or lifts and the way your body shifts in space.
- Big picture, sleep deprivation effects overall health by throwing off the hunger hormones causing you to eat more (and possibly gain weight), suppresses the immune system (leaves you more prone to infection), can make you moody, and your risk for developing chronic diseases (like type 2 diabetes).
- Sleep deprivation affects your willingness to perform your best. Studies show that people think that each rep or each step feels harder and they have feeling of not wanting to put forth effort. You would probably benefit more from taking an off day and spending more time in bed to rest. You need to feel your best to progress!
Signs you aren’t getting enough sleep include:
- If you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow
- You doze off during meetings or at the movies (I’m sure they don’t mean the boring movies and meetings… haha. sometimes it’s just impossible to stay awake)
- You rely on caffeine to get through the day
- You hit the snooze more than once (if your body goes back to sleep immediately after being asleep all night long, you aren’t getting enough sleep)
Now, here are some ideas and tips to catch better quality ZZZ’s:
- Make your bedroom dark like a cave.
- Turn off computers, TVs, and phones an hour or so before bedtime because their blue light blocks the production of the sleep hormone melatonin
- Cut back on the amount of water consumed 3 hours before bedtime
- Cut out caffeine after 5pm
- Snack on something with protein and carbs before bed if your stomach is growling. It prevents hunger from waking you up and provides material to make more melatonin
The suggestion from the article on how to find out how much sleep you need. Use a time that you are on vacation for a week, take note of what time you go to sleep and wake up (without alarm clock) for 7 days. Your body will catch up on sleep debt with the first 3 days and then you will take the average of the last 4 to determine how much sleep you body needs naturally. You may find that on day one you are much like the stick figure above… haha.
Your quality of sleep can be an indicator that you are working too hard without rest. If you aren’t sleeping well, it may be because you are overtraining. Your heart and internal organs are working hard and remaining activated for longer. You may need an extra rest day to absorb the hard work you are putting forth. They suggest that you keep a log of your sleep just like you log your workouts in order to be able to reference.
Keep your expectations for training realistic with the time you have available. Schedule sleep just like you would a meeting or a date with a friend.
How much sleep do you get per night?
Do you keep a log??
How many rest days do you take?