Want to be a better runner? You need to sleep.
As runners we know that movement is an important compontent for a healthy lifestyle. Running and regular exercise reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health issue. It has also been known to help reduce the risk for anxiety and depression, plus it can help you sleep better. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our training and ensures that we are ready to perform at our best. Just like we prepare for our runs by training regularly, eating well, making time for rest, recovery and sleep need to be a priority. If you are lacking in any of these areas, your performance can suffer. Sleep is essential and an area that us athletes cannot overlook. We all need sleep in order to feel restored but there are so many other benefits we get from sleep.
Sleep allows our heart to rest and our cells, tissues, and muscle time to repair. This means if you are looking to get stronger and faster, you need to sleep more. That four hours of sleep might mean the difference in a PR.
Sleeps helps us fight off illness and build our immune systems which means the more sleep we get the less likely we are to get sick. Add back in traveling for races, we will need to keep our immune systems strong.
Sleep helps our memories and can contribute to our success during a workout. Try this. Before you go to bed visualize yourself in that race, completing that workout, whatever goal you see yourself crushing it. Then see if you dream about it and see how dreaming about it makes it a reality. Visulization has been helping professional athletes for years, adding visulation to your pre-bed routine could be a complete game changer.
Now that we understand how sleep can help us physically, let’s talk about how quality sleep can help our mental health. Quality sleep not only can help your mood but prevent irritability and decrease the risk of depression. Combine those benefits with the benefits of working out and you are setting yourself up for success in everything you do.
Still need some convincing? Let’s chat about some science. A Stanford study on men’s basketball players who extended their sleep to 10 hours a night found that players ran faster in both half-court and full-court sprints. The study also found that players felt physically and mentally more fit.
Many athletes enjoy between seven and nine hours of sleep nightly plus they take naps between very hard workouts. Pro tip: When you are marathon training totally take an afternoon nap. It will be the best thing for your recovery. If waking up early is affecting your performance, talk with your coach or try something different. Sometimes sleep is more important than getting in that early run, so if you are feeling exhausted skip that run and sleeping in instead. You can always run later in the day or move that workout to another day. By pushing through that workout instead of sleep, you are increasing your risk for an overuse injury.
Let’s not let lack of sleep set us back from our goals.
It’s science backed. Adequate sleep has a direct result on performance. As we like to say train like you race, make sleep a priority even when you are training. You want your body to perform at it’s best, provide it with the sleep it deserves.
A few tips to help you sleep better:
Create a magical sleep space. Keep the space dark and cool with little noise. If you live in a dry climate like us or just want an overall better sleep experience, add a humidifier. We love the one from Canopy plus it doubles as white noise.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime and keep those for earlier in the day because brunch is life and first coffee. These beverages can interrupt sleep or disprut your sleep. If you are looking for a nightcap that will help you sleep, check out dream powder by beam. Dream powder is a bedtime blend of sleep-enhancing vitamins, minerals, nano cbd and more. Mix it with warm milk or hot water to make a guilt-free, sleep-inducing, delicious cup of cocoa. In the summer months, try this sweet treat made with dream powder: Chocolate Night Cookie Dough Bites. It’s a dessert that will help you sleep better!
Create a bedtime routine. Start about an hour before you want to fall asleep with activities like reading, taking a bath or journaling. We find that journaling before bed is a great way to reduce mental stressors. Write down your three wins for the day, any goals you are working towards and everything else that is running laps in your mind. Heading to bed with a clear mind can help with that tossing and turning.
Sleep is important and we cannot say it any other way. Just like we hold each other accountable for our workouts, let’s help each other get more zzzz’s. Night, night!
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2020, December 2). Benefits of Physical Activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine (US). (2020, April 16). Healthy Sleep. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2011, January). Your Guide to Healthy Sleep. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from
O'Donnell, S., Beaven, C. M., & Driller, M. W. (2018). From pillow to podium: a review on understanding sleep for elite athletes. Nature and science of sleep, 10, 243–253.
Watson, A. M. (2017). Sleep and Athletic Performance. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 16(6), 413–418
Vitale, K. C., Owens, R., Hopkins, S. R., & Malhotra, A. (2019). Sleep Hygiene for Optimizing Recovery in Athletes: Review and Recommendations. International journal of sports medicine, 40(8), 535–543.
Skein, M., Duffield, R., Edge, J., Short, M., & Mundel, T. (2011). Intermittent-Sprint Performance and Muscle Glycogen after 30 h of Sleep Deprivation. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(7), 1301–1311.
Azboy O, Kaygisiz Z. Effects of sleep deprivation on cardiorespiratory functions of the runners and volleyball players during rest and exercise. Acta Physiol Hung. 2009 Mar;96(1):29-36.
Moen, F., Olsen, M., & Hrozanova, M. (2020). Associations Between Sleep Patterns and Performance Development Among Norwegian Chess Players. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 1855.
Foley, Logan (2021) Sleep, Athletic Performance, and Recovery. Sleep Foundation., https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-activity/athletic-performance-and-sleep