Sleep is one of the very important component that is usually not into our running training plans. But it should be. Most runners training for longer distances or running regularly, according to our working schedule, we either have to run very early in the morning or later at night which can affect our sleep schedule. As runners, if we don’t get enough sleep, eventually it will affect our running strength, energy and performance, we need to also focus on our sleep schedule which can also be a challenge. According to some sleep research for athletes, the results showed that the runners who increased their sleep time, ran better and faster than when they followed their usual sleep time.
Benefits of Enough Good Sleep
- Sleep is when our body produces growth hormone which stimulates muscle growth and repair.
- In sleep deprivation we produce less HGH (human growth hormones) and our muscles pay the price (slower progress).
- Sleep is when our body synthesizes protein, creates new cells and repairs tissue, boosts our immune system.
Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation
- Sleep deprivation combined with workout exertion you’re more likely to get sick and of course all your runs feel tough.
- In sleep deprivation, we feel hungrier add that to distance running and it explains the never ending hunger.
- In sleep deprivation the body is less effective at converting carbs to glycogen, our body will hit the wall and crash.
How Much Sleep do Runners Need
The general rule is to add 1 minute per 1 mile/1.6K we run per week. If we ask more of our body, we need to give it more to recover.
Weekly running distance 68Km (40.6 miles)
- If we need 7 hours of sleep to feel well rested when we don’t train too much, and now we are running 65km/week, we should aim for 7h40mins minutes of sleep.
- If we need 8 hours of sleep to feel well rested when we don’t train too much, and now we are running 65km/week, we should aim for 8h40mins.
Weekly running distance 90Km (56.2 miles)
- If we need 7 hours of sleep to feel well rested when we don’t train too much, now we are running 90km/week, we should aim for 7h56mins of sleep.
- If we need 8 hours of sleep to feel well rested when we don’t train too much, now we are running 90km/week, we should aim for 8h56mins of sleep.
Natural Sleeping Aids
To help our sleeping pattern we can focus on some natural sleeping tips.
- Take magnesium supplements at night. Magnesium is a vitamin that many runners are depleted of. Taking magnesium supplements helps to promote better sleep, more relaxation, and reduces muscle soreness.
- Drink some chamomile tea at night. It relaxes our body and we feel much more calm.
- Perform some meditation before bedtime. Meditation lowers our heart rate, improves our breathing, and relaxes our body and mind for much better sleep.
- Perform some restorative yoga poses before sleep, which is part of meditation.
- Avoid screen time 1-2 hours before bedtime. Screen time affects our sleeping pattern, some people take more time to fall asleep, others wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall asleep for too long.
Best Foods for Better Sleep
To eat fresh healthy foods, will help provide our body with vitamins and minerals such as serotonin, magnesium, calcium, vitamin B6, fiber, that will help to increase our sleeping pattern and quality.
- Kiwi- Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate, which helps with better sleep.
- Soy Foods- Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso, edamame are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleeping cycle.
- Fiber-Rich Foods- Eating more fiber provides better sleep. Fiber prevents blood sugar spikes that may lower melatonin. Eat fiber rich vegetables, beans, quinoa, healthy grains.
- Fish- Salmon, tuna, halibut provide Omega 3’s, vitamin B6, which are body needs to create melatonin.
- Tart Cherry Juice- Tart cherry juice is melatonin-rich which is a sleep inducing hormone. Tart cherry juice helps prevent insomnia.
- Yogurt- If your body can tolerate dairy, yogurt or milk helps provide calcium which helps with better sleep. When our body is depleted of calcium, it also affects our sleeping pattern, not only our bone health. To take calcium supplements with the magnesium supplements will improve our sleeping quality.
- Whole Grains- Bulgur, barley and other healthy whole grains are magnesium-rich.
- Kale- Leafy greens such as kale and collards are calcium-rich vegetables, providing higher quality sleep.
- Bananas- A fruit rich in potassium, vitamin B6, which our body needs to create melatonin.
Sleep Well, Recover Well, Feel Good, Run Strong!