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Sleep Tips for Runners
GET THE BEST REST
Sleep expert James B. Maas, Ph. D., shares his advice for everyday runners.
By Nicole Falcone
Image by Erik T. Johnson
From the September 2009 issue of Runner's World
DEENA KASTOR, bronze medalist in the 2004 Olympic Marathon, says that she gets paid to run—and to sleep 10 hours a night in addition to a one-to two-hour nap each day. But with everything you have going on—work, family, and training—seven hours of uninterrupted shut-eye is probably a luxury. Sleep expert James B. Maas, Ph. D., shares his advice for everyday runners.
1. STICK TO A ROUTINE Go to bed at the same time every night—weekends, too. If you aren't getting enough sleep during the week, you start building up a sleep debt. But you can't make up for this by sleeping late on Saturday and Sunday, because that throws off your bedtime. "Your brain doesn't have a different biological clock for weekdays and weekends," Maas says.
2. PRIORITIZE IT Don't miss your bedtime. Sure, there are occasionally sick kids or last-minute deadlines to deal with. But these are unavoidable interferences—updating your Facebook page isn't.
3. SET THE SCENE Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Get black-out window shades, keep the temperature between 65 and 67 degrees, and avoid using a TV, laptop, or BlackBerry, which can prevent your falling asleep, within 30 minutes of your bedtime.
4. WATCH THE CAFFEINE A cup of coffee is a fine morning ritual. But chugging Red Bulls to get through the afternoon can keep you up at night. Avoid caffeine after 2 p. m., says Maas.
5. DON'T RUN TOO LATE Can't run in the morning? Then try to get it in between 5 and 7 p. M. Exercising within three hours of your bedtime can cause insomnia.
6. SET REALISTIC GOALS If you have a newborn, it may not be the time to go for an ambitious PR. Scale back your expectations so they reflect your current circumstances. Remember, he'll grow up eventually.
7. ADJUST FOR YOUR TRAINING If you are logging more miles and getting up earlier to squeeze in the extra training, make sure you go to bed earlier, too.
8. NAP A 10-to 15-minute nap can boost energy levels. But 90 minutes is ideal if you are sleep-deprived, says Maas. In that time, you'll go through an entire sleep cycle, which has a restorative effect on the body and can help recovery.