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  • Writer's pictureAlexa

The Power of Sleep

I guess we all have a sense that sleep is good for us, we literally can't survive without it and you can notice the impacts of sleep deprivation and their dangers when we are trying to do something important and skilled like driving (it's more dangerous than drink driving!). In this post I wanted to talk about some of the other benefits of consistently good sleep.


Benefits for running

Sleep is your magical recovery formula. Our bodies recover from and adapt to training best when we are sleeping (not when we are training). There is a reason why professional athletes and sports people work hard on prioritising their sleep quality and quantity - it improves performance!


You'll get more out of your training, be fresher going into the next workout and get more out of it. You'll also be mentally freshed and it's shown that a well rested brain is able to push more in training and racing than a tired brain, leading to improvements in speed and ability to maintain pace!


Benefits for work and life

Sleep can also improve our brain function. Our brains to a clean up exercise when we sleep, whilst also processing memories and moving the days important experiences and learnings to our longer term memory.


When we are sleeping well we are more creative, better at problem solving and less likely to be flustered by issues, challenges or changes.


Benefits for your overall health

Good sleep has many health benefits, from cardiovascular health, gut health (the gut also uses our sleeping time to do a self clean) and recovery from injury, ilness and surgeries. It also has proven benefits for our mental health.


How do we improve our sleep?

  • Cut down on screen time in the 1-2 hours before bed, the "blue light" they emit disrupts the build up of our sleep hormone levels through the evening and can delay and disrupt sleep

  • Sleep in a dark and cool room; our bodies core temperature drops when we sleep so a cool room is best to sleep in. Keeping daylight out as much as possible will also positively impact hours of sleep per night, especially in the summer

  • Have a bedtime routine, it's not just useful for children. The same bed time each night helps us to fall asleep faster. Having a bed time routine in the hour or two before bed helps mentally prepare and calm ourselves, improving sleep quality. Plan calming activities and cut the device use/screen time; create a consistent routine that prepares you mentally for when it's time to sleep.

  • When it comes to training it's best, if possible, not to train too late in the evening. Training raises our body temperature which will compromise how quickly we can get to sleep. Training also increases our heart rate, muscular and nervous system activation and energy levels - not ideal for pre-sleep preparation!


Resources

I'd recommend two books to help you find out more about sleep

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Sleep by Nick Littlehales



Women with black curly hair asleep in bed



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