Sleep… Slumber… Shuteye… Snooze… Siesta… No matter how you say, it’s still an important part of our everyday health. So if we’d never consider shorting ourselves of good nutrition, sufficient hydration, and serious training, why would we short ourselves of adequate sleep?
Over the past few years I’ve talked about my sleep, or lack thereof… I truly would love to be able to go to bed late and get up early, but after a few days of that nonsense my body starts screaming at me, at least as much as my foggy brain can muster.
As a personal trainer, I got used to getting up early to see clients starting as early as 5:30 AM. Even though I was never very good at adjusting my bedtime for those early morning alarms, I seemed just fine and never questioned whether or not I was getting enough sleep. Youth has a way of masking the ill effects of self mistreatment, and it wasn’t until I was older and started getting up at 4:30 three mornings a week to meet my friends for a run that I started feeling worn down. Not only did I tire easily, but my brain got so foggy in the afternoons while trying to write a new article for my blog, that I’d have to resort to caffeine or the occasional nap.
At about that same time, one of my friends told me that Fitbit tracking devices (affiliate link) monitor sleep so I immediately ordered one. Initially, I discovered that I was averaging about five hours sleep per night. My short-term goal became sleeping six hours per night, with a long-term goal of seven hours. As with making adjustments in any other aspects of life, I knew that I’d have to take baby steps toward reaching my longterm goal.
Two years later, I’m still not perfect at getting to bed early the night before those early morning runs, but I am getting better. Every Sunday, I add my nightly sleep average for the past week to my Weekly Run-Down infographic. With a goal of seven hours sleep per night, I’ve been delighted to average very close to my goal (even going over some weeks) for the last several months. Not only has it been nice to meet my goal, but as a result, I’ve felt great!
In an effort to improve overall health, I’ve come up with tips for how to fall asleep more easily, get a longer night’s sleep, and how to get better sleep…
My tips for falling asleep more easily:
- Avoid eating or drinking caffeine too close to bedtime
- Skip exercising just before bedtime
- Read in bed from a real book, not a device
- Avoid thinking about all the things that need to be completed the following day
- Practice relaxation once the lights are out – think about relaxing your legs, then your arms, etc. much like final relaxation in yoga
My tips for getting a longer night’s sleep:
- Avoid leaving projects until the last minute to complete, forcing you to stay up late to complete them on time
- Try to set a consistent bedtime
- Use the “bedtime” feature on your iPhone (or Android if it has that feature) to aid in getting to bed on time
My tips for getting better sleep:
- Avoid drinking too much water late at night
- Avoid placing your phone near your bed if the sound of your notifications wake you easily, or silence your phone
- Keep the temperature cool in your bedroom
- Run a ceiling fan to keep the air circulating around you
- Open your bedroom windows when the temperature allows (unless the screeching fox in your back yard keeps you awake 😉 )
- Find comfortable pillows that aid in aligning your body in the most comfortable positions – I prefer a very thin head pillow and when I sleep in a hotel with a thick pillow I don’t sleep well
- Purchase a comfortable mattress (affiliate link)
When approached by Casper Mattress about using their Sleep Like A Champion infographic in a post about my own sleep, I thought it sounded like a great idea. Sleep is something I mention occasionally in posts and as I mentioned, weekly on my Weekly Run-Down. Coincidently, Bill and I had just talked with friends about their new Casper mattress about a week before Alyse approached me, and we were intrigued by its design and how much our friends like their new mattress. Note: Even though I’m linking to Casper and using their infographic, I am in no way being compensated by the company for my post.
The Sleep Like a Champion infographic below is filled with information about sleep cycles, the restorative benefits of sleep, and it includes sleep tips for athletes. Getting a good night’s sleep is paramount to performing your best both in the sport of your choice and in your day-to-day life.
Looking back, I can’t help but wonder how my marathon performance might have been a little better had I focused more on sleep and restorative rest. Years of training for all those marathons was demanding on my body, and running multiple marathons in a single season was even more demanding. I’m sure those long Saturday afternoons naps after my long runs were beneficial, but more consistent day-to-day sleep would have been far better in helping me perform at my optimal level.
I know it seems odd that I have to work to get more sleep each night, but for someone who loves to get a lot done, doesn’t want to miss a thing, and has trouble falling asleep, it can be a challenge. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a work in progress. Understanding and feeling the benefits of additional sleep certainly helps make it a priority!
- How much sleep do you need per night?
- How much sleep to you get per night?
- What type of mattress do you prefer? Soft, firm, or somewhere in between?
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.
Happy Running! ~ Deb