Gotta’ Run: How to get more and better sleep

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 14, 2021

If you are missing sleep either through struggling to switch off at night or waking up with something on your mind, you need to be very careful. Especially if you do it every night and a good night’s sleep is a rare thing. This is what will push you over the edge and bad things will happen. Without enough sleep, your body cannot recover, and while it will fight back to look after you, eventually it will be unable to keep up.

I am one of these people. I don’t sleep enough and never have. Overtraining as a runner can cause bad sleep, usually resulting in the inability to experience deep sleep. Have you ever heard of being too tired to sleep? I’ve been there and it is a real thing. On the flip side, if I’ve not been sleeping well for some other reason, this lost sleep has caused my running to suffer. My point is that next to hydration, I am convinced that sleep is the biggest factor in getting the best return from my body.

Here are some things that have helped me. Whether you run or not, if struggling with sleep, try these methods.

I often use caffeine as a training aid, but it can mess up your sleep, especially if the caffeine is consumed later in the day. Positive training effects wear off during the day, but caffeine can still linger to deter sleep. Leave it alone in the afternoon and evening and remember that chocolate has caffeine.

Always prone to wake up thinking during the night, I came across something big that helped me. There seems to be an endless to-do list of things on my mind. To lessen the worry that I will forget something, I started making a list ahead of heading for bed. Often, I leave the pen and paper next to the bed so I can add to the list and hopefully fall right back to sleep.

It’s simple, but leave the electronics in another room. Try to send any messages or make calls that concern you at least an hour before bed. Nearly everything will wait until you get some sleep.

At any given time, I’ve got a book going. If I know my mind is racing, I take that book to bed with me. Usually the book will do the trick. And then should I wake up and my mind jump back to the to-do list, then instead of laying there for hours watching the clock, I grab the book again.

Snacking and hydrating come next. I am always hungry, and I sometimes wake up at night needing just a small snack, especially if I didn’t eat something before heading to bed. What works for me is a half banana both times, just before bed and somewhere in the night. Bananas have sleep promoting nutrients and can act as a mood stabilizer and a muscle relaxer.

Exercise enthusiasts and anyone else for that matter need to hydrate. Most of us walk around dehydrated every day. Try to meet your hydration requirements earlier, rather than the last few hours before bed. I really don’t mind a trip to the bathroom at night, allowing a chance to confirm that my pee is clear and hydration is good. Plus, I get a middle-of-the-night update of current conditions on the weather radio.

My final one works for me. Most nights, I ask Alexa to put on talk radio, never anything political, and to stop playing in an hour. There is even an app called “Sleep with Me” that does the same, except Alexa does it without taking my phone to bed.

Final call for our spring beginning runners class! It starts 6 p.m. Tuesday evening at the Salisbury PD. We’ll definitely discuss sleep importance and lots of good things running! Go to www.salisburyrowanrunners.org for this and other upcoming events. 

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