Top Tips On How to Get Better Quality Sleep as a Runner
Getting a great night’s sleep is fundamental when it comes to waking up refreshed and alert the next morning, especially if you are a runner, as sleep is the foundation of a good recovery.
But, many of us struggle to get the amount of rest that we need, according to research. Data collated shows that 36% of UK adults struggle with getting to sleep at least on a weekly basis. This means that many of us wake up feeling unrested and overtired often, which in turn negatively affects our running performance. This article provides you with eight top tips to help ensure that you get a great night’s sleep every night to enhance recovery, endurance and performance.
Tip One: Put Time Aside to Relax
Many people suffer from poor sleep, primarily attributed to the stress and worries of modern-day life. Everything is so fast-paced that it is easy to forget to take time out for yourself and ensure you relax into your evening.
Great suggestions for relaxing include reading a book, listening to calming music, taking a bubble bath or even writing in a journal. Putting down your thoughts can help express and let go of your emotions, readying you for rest. Sometimes it can be a helpful idea to write out a to-do list for the next day so that you can rid your mind of worries until the following morning. Whatever helps you relax, make sure you put time aside to unwind and let the stress wash away. A clearer mind makes it easier to drift into a peaceful sleep.
Tip Two: Avoid Running Too Close to Bed
Physical exercise is just as vital as good sleep when it comes to excellent health, so we mustn’t neglect exercise. Provided that your exercise regime is not overly strenuous or intense, it can be a fantastic accompaniment to helping you sleep, as well as maintaining your physical health.
However, if you do intense exercise close to your bedtime (within two hours), this can make it more challenging to get to sleep, mainly due to high cortisol levels and increased body temperature. Therefore, try to schedule your running workouts in the morning before work, in the afternoon or at least a few hours before you hit the sack.
Tip Three: Darkened Rooms are Ideal
This may sound obvious, but darkened rooms can be critical when trying to nod off to sleep. Our body associates darkness with sleep, and so it helps your body wind down for the night. Dimming the lights in your living room can help induce sleepiness, so getting a dimmer switch may be a sensible option. Furthermore, if you live in a place that gets an abnormal amount of light shining in (such as a bright lamp post outside your window), you might want to invest in darker and heavier curtains to stop this light from permeating in and throwing your body clock off.
Tip Four: Avoid Technology as Much as You Can
Technology has been responsible for many late nights. But, the distractions of social media are not the only reason that lots of us struggle with sleep. Technological devices often emit blue light, and this light can disrupt our internal body clock. Indeed, blue light suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin, encouraging our bodies to stay awake and alert.
Thus, it is a great idea to put any technology away at least an hour before bed to avoid this. Alternatively, if this is too much of a sacrifice, use a ‘blue light filter’ on your device or invest in blue-light-blocking glasses. This stops your body from thinking it is daytime and works to prevent wakefulness caused by blue light.
Tip Five: Take CBD as a Daily Supplement
A new, popular option adopted by people looking to sleep better is taking CBD. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD is one of 113 compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Research into this compound is still underway; however, CBD is thought to be a beneficial supplement. Daily intake of cannabidiol can help not only improve your sleep quality but also help address anxiety, boost focus and relieve pain levels – all of which can aid your running performance. What’s more, this natural solution is available in various product formats. You can buy CBD gummies, try out tinctures or capsules or apply different topicals, to name a few.
Tip Six: Eat Foods for Sleeping
In general, eating healthy food is better for sleep than unhealthy foods. However, it has been suggested that some foods are especially beneficial. These foods include chicken, turkey, pumpkin seeds and milk. This is because they all contain the chemicals tryptophan and serotonin, both of which are crucial for the production of melatonin (often referred to as the sleep-promoting hormone).
Tip Seven: Avoid Certain Foods
While some foods are recommended to aid sleep, some foods are argued to affect sleep negatively. Before going to bed, foods you should aim to avoid include spicy food, large meals (as your body will struggle to digest it before sleep) and alcohol.
Furthermore, drinking caffeine in the afternoon can also affect sleep later, so it is wise to avoid this if you are susceptible to the effects of caffeine. Other bad foods for sleep include sugary foods. This is because the energy spike caused by the sugar (and the consequential sugar crash) can really disrupt your body clock. Interestingly, if we don’t sleep well, we often turn to junk food the next day, creating a vicious cycle of poor sleep and a bad diet.
Tip Eight: Get Into a Routine
Last but not least, it is a fantastic idea to get your body into a regular routine. As we know, babies and children follow routines and generally fall asleep fairly accurately at a certain time. Well, the same can apply to adults. By following a routine, you are programming your body to fall asleep naturally and wake up at specific times for your morning run. Be quite strict with getting to bed by a specific time, and then you can flow into your relaxation routine.
Getting a great night’s sleep on a regular basis is elusive for many of us due to the fast-paced nature of the modern world. However, getting enough sleep is just as important as eating the right foods and exercising well, so it should not be underestimated. By following some of the tips we have mentioned, you can get yourself into a regular sleep routine, helping you to feel alert, focused and more rested each day.