There’s no doubt we live in a busy world and that being a runner means trying to pack more into every day. There’s always one more e-mail to respond to, one more load of laundry to fold or more foam rolling to do. However, just because you can squeeze in one more thing to your day doesn’t mean you should.
Getting more sleep is most likely more beneficial to getting one more unimportant task done in your day.
This is especially true if your running high mileage weeks and are training for a big goal.
The more you work out and the harder you train, the more sleep your body needs to recover. Professional runners know this to be true and most often take a nap after their morning workout and before their second workout of the day. Taking a post-run nap is probably not an option for us average runners with regular jobs, but we can make a sleep a priority.
Here are 6 steps to follow to get more sleep:
- Set a curfew for your electronics. Commit to turning off your smartphone, laptop and television (or anything with a screen) one to two hours before bed time. This might be the most challenging step on this list, but it works!
- Write out your sleep goals. This will allow you to take your sleep more seriously and come up with a game plan. Writing it down and committing to prioritizing sleep will make your goal real and not a vague notion of getting to bed earlier. Be specific with your goal and prioritize it.
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on the weekends. Okay, okay! I know this one sounds silly, but your body’s internal clock can benefit from a sleep schedule. If this sounds impossible, then try to only sleep in 30 minutes later on weekend days than you do on weekdays. It takes a lot of discipline to do this, but it will also help you get out the door on time for your long runs (read: How to Get Out the Door On Time for Your Long Run) and make you less groggy on Monday morning.
- Create a good sleeping environment. Dim the lights in your bedroom, make sure you have comfortable pillows and the room isn’t too cold or too hot. Maybe even keep an essential oil such as lavender in your bedside table to use at night. Use earplugs if you have noisy neighbors. Get blackout shades to darken your room or try wearing a sleep mask to block out any extra light.
- Ditch your afternoon caffeine fix. This might be more challenging than going to bed early, but you can do it! Choose decaf coffee and tea after 2:00 p.m. On the weekends avoid taking naps after 3pm so you can fall asleep at your normal time.
- Become a morning runner. If you work out in the evening or late at night and are having trouble falling asleep, try moving your workouts to the morning. The rush of endorphins late in the day can keep some runners from going to bed at a proper time.
Have you successfully changed your sleep habits? Let me know what changes you’ve made to get more zzz’s.