Why sleep is important for recovery and tips on how to get it!

I’m sure many of you know I happen to be a little preoccupied with the eating patterns of a lot of top athletes but did you know that I’m fascinated by their sleep patterns as well?  I admit it, I am.  For instance did you know that Tom Brady, the winningest quarterback of all time actually goes to bed at 9PM.  NINE PM.  I don’t think I’ve gone to bed at that hour on a regular basis since the third grade.

bedtime

And Shalane Flanagan and Deena Kastor, two of the fastest female marathoners regularly aim for 8-10 hours of sleep a night and rumor has it that Shalane is a big fan of naps.  I knew there was a reason I love her.

Athletes, especially runners need more sleep because when you sleep your pituitary gland releases growth hormone which helps repair muscles and so much more.  Sleep is also essential for recovery because the metabolic activity during sleep is mainly anabolic (during which new molecules are built up).  This helps with cell growth and division, tissue repair and growth, and it boosts your immune system to help you fight off disease.

I have found that when I don’t get enough my sleep my body doesn’t perform well at all.  Not only does my running suffer but I risk injury and I find that the older I get the more this is true.  I need quality sleep and when I don’t get it, the effects are clear.

i need sleep

Here are my tips for not only getting a good night’s sleep, but also getting really good sleep.

Try to go to bed at the same time every night.  I know with a busy lifestyle this can be hard but it really helps to get on a schedule and your body likes it.  Don’t sleep in, even on the weekends.  Just as your body will get used to going to sleep at the same time every night, it will also get used to getting up at the same time every morning.

Limit your caffeine intake later in the day and avoid big meals late at night.  Caffeine is great in the morning because it does a great job at giving you that extra pep to get you up but you don’t need it at night when you want to fall asleep and you certainly don’t want to risk indigestion in the middle of the night from a late night meal so try to keep the later meals light and eat heavier meals mid day.

Leave all of your electronics out of the bedroom, and that includes the TV.  We plug our phones in at the opposite end of our house.  I also had to take out our range extender but I don’t let MacGyver use the iPad in the bedroom anymore and our TV watching is limited to our living room.

Meditate or try some relaxation techniques.  Years ago a friend of mine taught me a relaxation technique where you imagine a cloud and count backwards, there are a few other steps too but that’s the gist of it, the point is find a technique that works for you and use it.  Relaxation techniques are great ways to calm yourself and can help you get better sleep.

Temperature is also important.  I remember an episode of Dr. Oz once where he mentioned the perfect sleep temperature was something like 62-65 degrees and MacGyver and I both burst out laughing.  If we put out thermostat on 65 degrees we’d end up divorced.  I wouldn’t mind but he would freeze.  We compromise and keep it at 73 which works for the both of us.

Probably the most important thing of all is to make sure you have a quality mattress.  Y’all may remember what MacGyver and I went through to find the right one for us but we finally found one after several tries.  The right mattress can make all the difference in the world.

For some great information heck out this really awesome infographic:

casper

I want to hear from you, are you one of those people who can sleep anywhere, or do you need a certain type of mattress such as a soft or extra firm one?

Are you one of those people who can fall asleep on a dime or do you have a hard time falling asleep?

Do you like it really cold when you sleep or do you like the temperature more on the warm side?

4 thoughts on “Why sleep is important for recovery and tips on how to get it!

  1. Sleep! Yes–so important. OK, so I get 7-8 hours of sleep each night and I get up between 3-4 am so you do the math. I am grandma status on the time I go to bed but it works for me and my life allows for it so I happily go to bed really early!

    • There is nothing wrong with going to bed early girl! Nothing at all. When MacGyver and I go to the cabin some nights we hit the bed at 7PM and I’m so not kidding! And once when we mowed the grass for 11 hours we hit the bed pretty darn early and slept for 10 hours straight. I felt so good the next day I could have ran for days, probably, okay maybe, okay probably not but it felt like it.

      • I am so very grateful my life allows for this. We don’t have kids and so during the week we have dinner by 5:30 PM and I am up reading or watching Netflix by 7 PM and crashed out by 8 PM. Rick is only shifted by about 2 hours so it’s nice that we still see each other 🙂 Getting up early just feels so good to me. It’s my favorite time of day–everything is dark, quiet and I am wide awake because it is truly when my body is wide awake. I heard a podcast and the author was talking about his book “The Power of When” and it was so validating for me!

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