Count your Zzz’s as Blessings

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to function at their best. The deeper the sleep (and the more you dream) the more benefits you receive. As runners our goal should be to give our body the best recovery possible now so that we can push its limits as far as possible later.

While you’re asleep your body’s growth hormones are actively building muscle mass and repairing tissues. Other types of hormones released while you sleep help your body fight off infection, which contributes to keeping you healthy or recover from illness. Furthermore, even your weight is affected by how much you sleep. Studies show that people who sleep less than 5 hours a night are more likely to become obese than people who sleep 7-8 hours. Finally, sleep helps improve your mood, which in turn improves your attitude while running.

So how do you get a good night’s sleep and enjoy all the recovery benefits?

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.

DO for a Good Night Sleep

  • Treat your bed as a sanctuary from the stresses of the day. Use it for sleep only!
  • Set and stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. This routine will help program your body to feel tired when it’s time for bed and help you to wake up feeling refreshed.
  • Dim the lights in the evening as you wind down activities. This tells your body that bedtime is approaching.
  • Put night lights in the bathrooms and halls to avoid light from resetting your body clock when using the bathroom at night.
  • Take a hot bath or shower. This can help you relax and cause a drop in body temperature that helps you feel drowsy.
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom cooler at night than during the day.
  • Make your bedroom a noise free zone. Remove distractions such as computers or televisions. If outside noises wake you up at night try earplugs or a white noise machine.
  • Turn your clock away from your bed so you don’t worry about how much time has passed.
  • Get out of bed if you are not sleepy.

DON’T do for a Good Night Sleep

  • Use caffeine containing products at night or even late afternoon.
  • Eat a large meal close to bedtime. Your body cannot rest while digesting a large meal.
  • Consume alcoholic beverages at bedtime – it can rob you of  deep sleep and dreaming.
  • Take late afternoon naps. If you do nap, keep them under 1 hour and before 3 p.m.

Are you getting adequate sleep? What do you do to stay refreshed?



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