With the fast-paced lives we live today, finding enough time in the day to accomplish our every day task is hard enough, but finding time for adequate sleep can be a challenge. I wear many hats and I myself am guilty of burning the candle at both ends, depriving my body the adequate sleep it required while continuing to train. I quickly found out that just like cheating on your diet, cheating sleep will cause you to gain weight, be fatigue, irritable and unfocused which affected my performance. Our bodies require a certain amount of sleep so it can function properly. Giving our bodies the rest it requires will allow them to perform as they were intended. So when it comes to athletes and their performance getting enough sleep is just as important, as their diet and training plan.
So here are 4 areas in which getting adequate sleep can enhance your race performance:
Keeps Kidneys Functioning Properly
One of the jobs of the kidneys is to keep the body hydrated by balancing water and electrolytes. An article written by Dr. Benjamin Wedro, MD. FACEP, FAAEM states, "Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and others are critical in allowing cells to generate energy, maintain the stability of their walls, and to function in general. They generate electricity, contract muscles, move water and fluids within the body, and participate in myriad other activities." When the body is dehydrated and can not move fluids and electrolytes the muscles will cramp and this will lead to poor performance. Another article written in MedMD found that "Women who slept five hours or less a night had a 65 percent greater risk of rapid decline in kidney function, compared with women sleeping seven to eight hours a night"
Allows HGH to Rebuild and Restore
Every time you complete a strenuous workout, you create tears in tissue and breakdown muscle. When you sleep your energy consumption is lowered and during deeper stages of sleep HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is released into the bloodstream to regenerate damaged tissue, rebuild muscle and make bones stronger in preparation for the next workout. With inadequate sleep your body will not release the HGH needed to recover causing the next workout not to be as effective.
Helps you Trim Down
There are a lot of scientific theories behind this notion but the reality is we consume more calories as the day goes on, and we tend to do more senseless snacking closest to bed time. So you don't have to be a rocket scientist the figure out, the more you sleep the less you eat.
Clears Your Mind
In addition to putting you in a good mood, more sleep allow you to be mentally alert, focused and able to strategize. Running is more of a mental sport then physical. Training is crucial but your body will achieve what you believe it can achieve, so being in the right headspace is essential.
Research has proven that getting enough sleep has many benefits for athletes and creating a sleep regimen and incorporating it into your training plan will allow you to:
1. Stay hydrated
2. Build a stronger body
3. Be lighter and quicker on your feet
4. Keep your head in the game so you can strategize
Integrating a quality sleep component into your training plan may be the one missing piece that will skyrocket your performance and take you to the next level. So train hard but also give your body the adequate downtime it needs to replenish and reinvent itself, because without the adequate downtime you are reversing all the efforts of your training program.
Work your body Smarter Not Harder. Make Sleep A Priority!
Dellapena, Deb. (2014). Sleep Better (And Longer) To Run Better.
Wedro MD, Benjamin. (2015). eMedicineHealth.
Reinberg, Steven. (2015). Poor Sleep Might Harm Kidneys, Study Suggests.