How a Good Night’s Rest Helps You Avoid Injuries
Approximately 13% of work injuries can be attributed to sleep problems. The same percentage may hold true for athletes. Without sleep, it can be more difficult to concentrate on drills, learn new skills and recover from a long workout. Restless nights make mistakes more likely and may increase the chance of falls.
Between training and work, it can be challenging to get the seven hours of sleep per night that you need. Some people may need even more than seven hours to recover from a workout fully. However, the benefits of sleeping better or longer are immediate. Your muscles may ache less than usual, you’ll feel more alert during the day, and you may even learn new skills more easily than before.
Sleep Restores Muscles
After a competition, your muscles usually hurt. However, once you’ve had a good night’s sleep, they often start to feel better. Researchers have begun to probe how sleep impacts muscle recovery. Rest plays such an essential role that one study recently hypothesized that sufficient sleep permits muscle recovery and sleep debt favors the loss of muscle mass.
If you want to recover from a competition without injury, sleeping for an extra hour or two may help.
Sleep Maintains Alertness
Nearly anywhere that you run is bound to have obstacles. When you’re sleep-deprived, it may be harder to notice and avoid them, which can lead to falls and injury. Sleep helps promote alertness. Even a short nap increased the alertness and performance of air traffic controllers. Naps can do the same for runners. After a nap, more alert runners are likely to avoid injury from falls.
Sleep Enhances Learning Ability
Running can seem mindless, but learning a new drill or how to hold a faster pace takes mental effort. If you learn a new exercise during the day, the memory may be consolidated as you sleep at night. Our memories have layers and sleep allows you to add a new layer to an old memory. People who slept were better able to remember both old and new locations of words on a computer screen than those who didn’t sleep. Keeping the new drill that you learned fresh in your mind may require a nap.
Remembering how to execute a drill correctly can make the difference between improved times and an injury due to improper form.
Keys to a Good Night’s Rest
Your training program should include sleep goals as well as time goals. Getting a good night’s rest may help you drop your race time. Like eating healthily, getting sufficient sleep may require lifestyle changes. Many people have unhealthy sleep habits that are hard to shake, even for the sake of a faster race time.
Developing healthy sleep habits starts with setting a bedtime and wake-up time. Many people get up early on the weekdays and sleep in on weekends (or non-race days). But your body runs on an internal clock that gets out of sync with these changes. If you go to bed at the same time every night, your body will learn to release sleep hormones at this time. Consistent bedtimes make it easier to fall asleep.
Another way to improve your sleep is to set aside a distraction-free space. Most people use their bedroom for sleeping, but they also sometimes use it for other things, like work. Bedrooms should be devoted to sleep. Block out distracting lights with blackout curtains and drown out disruptive sounds with a white noise machine. You can also make sure your bed is comfortable, and the mattress and pillows support your back. It can be hard to sleep if you feel achy, so have all the tools (pillows, massage balls, etc.) at hand to relax your muscles and mind.
With sufficient sleep, you may avoid injuries and improve your race times.
Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.