With hectic schedules and 24-7 connectivity becoming the norm, more and more people are reporting they don’t get enough sleep, even as the dangers of undersleeping become increasingly apparent.
In 2010, Statistics Canada found 46 per cent of Canadians reported they cut back on sleep to make time for other activities in their lives, but running may be helping you sleep.
It’s been found that those who exercise regularly have less difficulty sleeping, although many still find getting a full night of rest difficult, which is dangerous.
Ottawa-based doctors at the Royal Mental Health Centre say they have found sleeping less than six hours at night can cause impairment similar to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 per cent, or somewhere between one to two drinks for most adults. Presumably many people drive to work in rush hour traffic each morning after not getting enough sleep.
Furthermore, there’s lots of research linking poor sleeping habits with health risks, including increased risk of car accidents, obesity and higher risks of stroke and heart disease. Those who sleep less also tend of eat more, which seems to go along with the correlation to obesity.
Exercise can help you sleep, but it can also cause problems if done too close to when you try to sleep. Going for a long run right before bed might keep you awake, as it raises adrenaline levels in your blood which will keep you awake and alert. You need an hour or two after exercise to let adrenaline levels fall again.
The message here for runners is that, from a fitness standpoint, getting a full night of sleep may be as important to your health as keeping up with your training. Even when corrected for outside factors, amount of sleep per night is still one of the best predictors of your health.
Adults should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night, but it’s also important to try and keep a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up at similar times each day. Getting into the habit of doing relaxing activities, such as reading, before going to bed can help.