Why You Need More Sleep

dog sleepingGetting a decent night of shut eye often feels difficult. With long hours at work, school, and family obligations, it’s challenging to fit in a good night’s sleep. Yet, it’s so vital for your own well-being. We all know this, so why don’t we follow it? Especially as runners, we need the time to recover and recharge the body. Here’s why:

  • Sleep helps control your weight. You may believe that because you run, you are somewhat immune to weight gain–you burn off the calories. However, without enough sleep, it doesn’t matter. Sleep deprivation can change the way your body stores carbohydrates and digests foods, making you gain weight despite your exercise efforts. And…heavier weight can affect your running times.
  • A good night’s rest each night will aid in cardiovascular health. As runners, it’s easy to develop a faster heart beat from overexertion. But irregular heartbeats can also occur if you don’t get enough rest. Additionally, lack of sleep can increase stress hormone levels and cause hypertension.
  • People who are tired are irritable, emotional, and lack motivation, especially when it comes to any physical activity.
  • Sleep also aids in running recovery. During sleep, the body heals and repairs the heart and blood vessels and muscles. If you’ve had an especially tough workout, sleep will allow you to recovery quicker and put you back running sprints around the track sooner.
  • Ongoing sleep deficiency can affect your body’s immune system. It can’t fight off viruses and bacteria, leaving you more apt to sickness.

So how much do you need?

According to the National Institute of Health, most healthy adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Just because you can get by on seven hours of sleep at night, doesn’t mean you should.