Sleep Your Way to a Great Season!

author : Ontherun
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If you are like me, you love to train so you can race. The only problem is the one thing you can never outrun, time. Most of us have to work. We also have family obligations. Add in a little time to eat and the day is over. To find time, we tend to sacrifice sleep as the least important part of our day. Heck we do not get anything done if we are sleeping right? Wrong! Sleep is extremely important to all of us and may be even more important for athletic people.

If you think nothing happens when you sleep you're sadly mistaken. Most important, it is the bodies time to rest and heal. When we workout, we put microscopic tears in our muscles. It is the healing of those scars while we sleep that allow our muscles to get stronger. As each little tear heals it helps build up our muscles, thus allowing us to get stronger and faster.

We also need sleep to relieve stress. For most of us there are a lot of stresses on our lives. They may be as important as trying to secure a better job, or as small as trying to squeeze one more run in before a snow storm. Either way our body needs to deal with these stresses of day-to-day life. Sleep is the time our subconscious tries to help us cope with our stresses.

Studies vary, but most recommend the average adult should get somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. If you are like me, you burn the candle at both ends more often then not. We stay up late to get in that extra load of laundry and get up early to squeeze in an extra mile or two in our runs. The problem is that depriving our bodies of sleep is cumulative. Sleeping only 5 hours a night can be done, but doing so regularly will bring on a host of problems.

For starters, our bodies do not have sufficient time to heal between workouts. A taper every 4 weeks is not always enough to allow our bodies to regenerate. Add to that, too many athletes refuse to have a planned rest days in their schedules, only adding to the problem. In time injuries will result, the bodies way of saying we need a rest.

If you are not ultra competitive (with yourself or nationally), lack of sleep can have other results. Our mental judgments become impaired. We make poor decisions at work, at home and other important parts of our lives. I am not sure, but I would venture a guess that a few key yawns while pitching a new idea to the CEO at work would not go over so well.  I am sure my daughter was not impressed when I fell asleep during a soccer game, let alone the number of times the family let me "sleep in" and went off with out me. Our bodies will make us get the sleep we need in the long run. I love to tri, but falling at sleep at work or on the road is not worth 3 seconds in my next race.

If you take nothing else from this article, please reevaluate your sleeping habits. Notice if fatigue and poor workouts go along with continuing lack of sleep. We all seem to think we need less than we do. I know that I should get 8 hours per night and that is just not going to happen. I tend to get closer to 6 during the week and 8 on the weekends. I continue to try and get at least 7 hours per night overall. To me this is important both physically and mentally for me to be able to perform my best in life.

 

Enjoy your sport, enjoy your family, but do not forget to take care of your body's need too.

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date: April 2, 2006

Author


Ontherun

Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03

Author

avatarOntherun

Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03

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