Sleep is a pillar of a runner’s training and is one of the easiest ways to improve performance, but most people are under-slept and struggle to get a good night’s rest. Bear Mattress is a company that’s trying to help people (and athletes specifically) get the sleep they need.

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Dr. Amy Bender is a sleep specialist and professor at the University of Calgary. Bender says that sleep deprivation affects many aspects of a runner’s health. “Sleep deprivation can negatively affect running performance because there is an increased perception of effort when you’re fatigued. It has to do with fatigue related to the mind, more so than related to the muscle.” On top of increasing a runner’s perceived level of effort in their workouts, sleep quality and quantity have a bearing on appetite and mood. Bender says that at only five hours of sleep restriction, people can consume 500 extra calories in a day. Sleep restriction is defined as consistently getting less sleep than you need.

Alexi Pappas on the importance of sleep for a runner

Pappas is a professional runner and Olympian on the track. She’s currently in the process of making the transition from the 5,000m to the marathon and she says a good night’s sleep has been a huge part of this bump in distance. “As an Olympic runner, recovery is just as important as training. In distance running, you can only train as hard as you recover. I spend lots of time in bed–I sleep nine hours every night and nap most days, especially after hard workouts. Knowing that I have the absolute best mattress waiting for me at home makes my recovery a joy.”

The runner uses the Hybrid Mattress from Bear. “There’s something so comforting about the bounciness of a spring mattress, and I love how nice and cool it feels whenever I lie down.”

What to do if you’re seriously overtired

Runners are programmed to push through pain and discomfort–it’s the essence of running a race. But when it comes to sleep, there are days when an extra 90 minutes of rest is more beneficial than logging your daily miles.

Lots of runners, especially those who are also parents, get their training done in the morning. If you’re burning the candle at both ends, remember to take some time to rest, and if that means skipping your morning workout occasionally, do it. It’s better to have one really great (albeit delayed) workout, than two or three terrible ones.

Another option is to take a nap. Aim for either a 30-minute “cat nap” or a 90-minute sleep. Sleeping for either of these windows will help you avoid the groggy feeling that can set in after an interrupted snooze.

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How to improve sleep

Most runners know they’re not sleeping enough, but it remains difficult for them to change their sleeping habits. Bender has a few suggestions to improve both sleep quality and quantity. First, healthy adults should aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. To accomplish this, Bender says runners should aim to pick a bedtime and stick to it, limit afternoon caffeine consumption (past noon), adopt a bedtime routine, write a to-do list and read a (paper) book. It’s also recommended that screen time be limited past 9 p.m. for optimal sleep.

Bear Pro mattress layers

Consider your mattress

A comfortable sleep is a sound sleep. Bear Mattress is bringing the best sleep possible to really active people through mattresses made with athletes in mind. Their two best-selling models are the Hybrid and the Pro.

The Hybrid combines the best parts of coil and foam mattresses, bringing them together to give runners an ideal sleep. Coils create better air flow so that body heat can move through the mattress. Cooling gel is incorporated into the foam on top and conducts heat away from the body. On top of helping cool, the coils operate independently, meaning that movement on one side of the bed won’t be felt on the other. So if you’ve got a partner who moves a lot at night, a hybrid mattress can help solve the problem. Bear also added extra-strong coils to the perimeter of the mattress so that you can take a seat on the edge without falling off.

The Pro is a memory foam mattress with an added layer of copper-infused foam on top to help wick away heat. A memory foam mattress is ideal for people with back pain as it can easily hug the hot spots and help to relieve pressure. Copper is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial metal that keeps your mattress clean, and can help prevent sickness (a runner’s arch nemesis).

Both mattresses use Celliant technology. Celliant is a patented fiber that’s a blend of 13 natural minerals to help increase local blood flow which can lead to a more restful sleep, faster muscle recovery and increased energy in the morning.