Sleep is one of the most important factors in a runner’s health. Consistent sleep can mean the difference between a personal best, avoiding an injury, or simply maintaining a good mood.
Under Armour’s experts are working to help athletes improve the quality and quantity of their sleep. While a perfect night’s rest is difficult to achieve every night, following these steps can help overall sleep quality. Canadian Running went behind the scenes at Under Armour’s run headquarters and learned a few simple tricks to help you sleep better. Runners should aim for eight to ten hours of sleep a night, while some people suggest that they don’t need that much sleep, research shows that many cognitive functions are impaired when people get less.
Step 1 – Keep your room cool
The temperature of your bedroom can hugely impact how deeply you sleep. Keeping your room around 17-19 degrees celcius creates optimal sleep conditions.
Step 2 – Wear pajamas
This may sound like a weird one, but wearing pajamas can help facilitate sleep. Under Armour experts say that the act of actually putting on a different set of clothing prepares you mentally for bedtime.
Step 3 – Don’t eat right before bed
Allow your body some time to wind down before bed. When you eat a large meal, you inhibit your body’s ability to enter sleep mode.
Step 4 – Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day
Going to bed at a similar time everyday develops a routine and prevents what’s referred to as, “social jet lag”. Staying up late and sleeping in long can impair sleep quality. By maintaining a sleep routine, runners can develop circadian rhythms that promote quality sleep, as opposed to just spending time in bed.
Under Armour experts suggested that staying up late on the weekends is just as bad for your sleep patterns as taking a trans-atlantic flight. And you don’t even get the benefit of waking up in Europe.
Step 5 – Turn off the screens
Within an hour of your bedtime, avoid blue light. The blue light that comes from your cellphone or television suppresses the secretion of melatonin. An extension of step five is to make your bedroom dark. All light hugely effects sleep quality, not just blue light. Researchers at Harvard University found that even a dim light can interfere with a person’s sleep schedule.