The amount of sleep I get each night has become something I am much more conscious of. I am now aware of the need to get enough to aid recovery. In the past, I have been a slave to denying myself sleep in order to squeeze in as much training as possible. I now realise this is not always the best thing to do, and if it can be avoided, we don’t need to do it. Of course, at times we have to get up early to train before work, but if this is the case, I try to get an early night the evening before to ensure I still get enough sleep.
Sleep is integral to recovery. It allows our bodies to repair from the damage we have caused them throughout the day from training. Frequently, after a tough session, I am knackered. As soon as my head hits the pillow I am asleep. Nights like that show how important sleep is. This is a sign our body is craving all the sleep it can get. If another early morning awaits you, GO TO BED EARLY! When I was denying myself the sleep my body needed, I would wake up feeling as tired as I was going to bed. Not only did I feel physically exhausted, but also mentally. This is the point at which we put ourselves at risk of injury. If we are going into every run or session tired, we aren’t going to be gaining as much from the session as we would going into it fresh. If you are constantly feeling tired, make sure you give yourself the rest you need. If you do this, you’ll soon be raring to go again.
In contrast, we may not always need lots of sleep. I for one find myself getting so fixated on getting at least eight hours sleep, that I become anxious if I haven’t got it, even when I have naturally woken up before I’ve had eight hours. This is ok! Sometimes we don’t need lots of sleep. If we wake up feeling wide awake before our alarm, we must not need anymore. It is so important to listen to our bodies; they know much more than we do about what they need, and they usually do tell us what they want.
The main thing I try to remember is how vital it is not to get caught up in an incessant cycle of sleep deprivation. Give your body the amount of sleep it requires. If it’s shouting at you for more, give it more. If it’s telling you its had enough, believe it. Early mornings are ok, if you get enough sleep beforehand, and vice versa with late nights.
I find it best not to get too hung up on how much sleep I get, but instead just ensure I don’t deprive myself of it. This way I can maintain a positive balance between sleep and training without overthinking it.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!