Did you know exercise and physical exertion helps you sleep better? When a person is physically active for at least 150 minutes per week, daytime tasks are more efficient and people generally feel less sleepy at school or work. Additionally, the quality of sleep is usually better, too.
For runners, getting the proper amount of sleep is extremely important for top performance. Check out these three reasons why:
Sleep Well, Dream Fast: Sleep for Runners
1. Weight maintenance.
Interestingly enough, adequate sleep is correlated with weight management. When you’re getting enough sleep, your hunger hormones are on point. But when you’re not getting enough sleep, the hunger hormone ghrelin is on the increase and will cause you to feel falsely hungry. Why is this bad? Aside from the obvious weight gain that most people are trying to avoid, it’s particularly bad for endurance athletes (i.e. marathon and ultrarunners) because the body is less able to store carbs ingested from carbo-loading. Therefore, a sleep-deprived marathoner is more likely to hit the wall than a well-rested athlete.
2. Lack of sleep leads to an increase in cortisol.
Cortisol is the chemical released in our bodies under times of stress and duress. Cortisol is one of the hormones utilized during a fight-or-flight response. Cortisol can be life-saving in an emergency situation. But when cortisol is continuously released (like in a sleep-debt situation), it can suppress the immune system and increase blood pressure, among other things. When the immune system is suppressed and blood pressure is increased, it can lengthen your recovery time. In layman’s terms, an increase in cortisol due to lack of sleep is not good. In fact, it’s bad!
3. Repair and regeneration.
Any time you complete a workout, your muscles tear and become damaged (usually just a little bit but sometimes a lot a bit). This is great for building muscle and endurance. But the repairs to and growth of muscles, ligaments, and bones occur during sleep. Without enough sleep and rest time, our bodies don’t have enough time to properly heal and regenerate.
There are many more reasons why adequate sleep is important, but these are among the top three for runners. As a general rule of thumb, the average adult ages 26-64 years old should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. But as little as 6 hours and as many as 10 hours could be your norm. Be sure to get ample sleep to perform your best and achieve your goals.
Sleep well, dream fast!
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