The Power Of Sleep

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houstonchronicle.com

It’s funny how as you grow older you come to recognize how much your body depends on the little things you take for granted, and while you may have been able to squeeze by on say, bad eating habits, regular partying and drinking, late nights, poor rest and little sleep, as you cross the mid-thirty threshold whether runner or not, you begin to feel, look, and in many cases, perform differently. Your body lets you know in no uncertain terms that unlike before when you could get by on the fly of youth, now you would have to earn it. Those eight hours of restfull bliss that you credited only to growing minds have once again become a necessary reality for both the athlete and healthy-minded individual.

Dr. Matthew Edlund, director of the Center for Circadian Medicine, claims “you’re always remaking your body,” and you need sleep to do that. While we sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, rebuild muscles, and rewire our brains. Studies have found that chronic sleep deprivation decreases the time before an athlete reaches exhaustion. And, even one night without sleep decreased the distance test subjects were able to run in a half-hour (Sleep In — It Will Make You Faster, By Kelly O’Mara, competitor.com)

Honestly, I enjoy sleep. In my book, it ranks high up there on my sacred list of things that give unequal enjoyment – demands nothing in return. Thing is, in this day and age of relative unconectivity and constant movement, where we are busy going nowhere fast, it has become more and more difficult to find the time to do so. Amid a lot of struggles, the struggle to garner enough rest on a daily basis has become only too real. As a result, I find myself unable to fulfill my highest potential in many activities that require strenuous effort and attention. In other words, I’m way to tired, way to often. I’m also convinced that were there to be increased hours in the day, we would find even more ways to fill it up and sleep would still be neglected. Sleep just can’t win and for that matter neither will we, not if we continue at the current rate; at some point out bodies are going to yell “enough!” Why should it take that for us to stop and take notice? The red flags are there if we will but open our eyes to them. They include: constant and easy tiredness, lethargy, crankiness and short-temperedness, moodiness, poor concentration and inattentiveness, decreased strength and mediocre performance.

Some ways, aside from keeping your goal in mind, of combatting the sleep-depriving demon are:
1. Create an atmosphere for rest and relaxation: thus, your bedroom should be used only for this purpose with the correct temperature and lighting providing an ambience that is relaxing and sleep-friendly.
2. Have a set schedule where enough sleep is factored in per day: this could mean giving yourself a specific time to go to bed and treating it as you would your training schedule (sacred).
3. Go to bed earlier if you are an early riser to ensure your body gets enough rest. 
4. It helps to relax before bed to get yourself in the zone: eat dinner early, tone down activities and sources of entertaining stimulation and stay away from caffine and alcohol.
5. Nap as needed when sleep-deprived: this can help greatly in reducing stress, restoring energy and concentration though it is not a substitute for being well rested.
There is no denying that each individual is different and so has different needs and so while we all need sleep, we may need different amounts and at different times. Your best bet is to find out what works best for you. While 8-10 hours is the average need of an athlethe, you may find that you feel well and rested after 7 or 9 hours. It is your body and your call, you get to determine this based on the red flags noted above. As you come to discover the power of a good night’s rest, you may discover the reasons behind you falling short on that PR goal.
Watch: The Importance Of Sleep video

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Valerie Rosselli
    Jan 29, 2016 @ 16:34:19

    Love this! Sleep is great! Thanks for the info!

    Reply

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