There are a number of variables at play for must runners, whether they are training for a race or just running for their health.
There are choices that can be made in terms of gear, there are different opinions when it comes to what training method is best, and there are disagreements over best fueling strategies for different races.
All of these things are important, though none have a definitive answer of what is best.
One thing that rarely gets talked about, at least in the circles of runners that I’m familiar with, is the importance of rest-specficially the fact that runners need their sleep.
Why Runners Need Their Sleep
There are a number of reasons that all of us, runners or not, need adequate sleep. Sleep is vitally important for a number of reasons, but here are 3 big reasons that runners need to make sure they are getting enough shuteye each night.
- Injury Prevention–The body does the majority of its cellular repair when we are sleeping, so the best way to make sure our bodies don’t wear down is to make sure we are getting enough sleep. Regular rest days are important as well, but regularly getting enough sleep allows muscles, bones, and tendons to get stronger.
- Performance Gains–The payoff for the hard work that we do to get faster or run farther is maximized if we are getting enough sleep. While the body repairs tissue to prevent injury most efficiently during sleep, that same tissue repair is what allows us to run faster and farther in subsequent workouts. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re leaving gains on the table.
- Hormone Regulation–Getting enough sleep helps our bodies function optimally on a variety of levels. Hormone regulation is a complex subject, that I honestly am not an expert in, but I’ve read enough journal entries to know that getting enough sleep allows our bodies to self-regulate the hormones that we release. From HGH, to cortisol, to hunger regulating hormones, to a whole lot more, hormone regulation is pretty important to anyone wanting to be as healthy as possible, runners included.
How Much Sleep is Enough
There is no magic bullet when it comes to how much sleep you should get, but let’s be honest, most people aren’t getting enough.
Each of us need a different amount of sleep to stay healthy and function optimally, but the more active we are the more sleep we need.
If you’re not waking up refreshed most mornings, I’d definitely encourage you to try and get to bed a little earlier at night, because odds are you’re not getting enough sleep.
And it just might make you a better runner too!
How Much Sleep Do You Get On a Typical Night? Do You Think You Should Try to Get a Little More?