The Importance Of Sleep When Training


Everyone knows that sleep is more important and that they should sleep more. There's a lot of benefits for getting a better nights sleep.. Improved Immunity, Better Health, Better Weight Control, Clearer Thinking and many more. However, sleep is the one thing that many people tend to cut if they're short on time.

I am very much one of those people. On both parts. As much as I know that sleep is important and that I should go to bed earlier, it very rarely happens and obviously I don't feel very good for it. I tend to be in a bad mood more often than not and always feel tired.

Along with the benefits I mentioned briefly above, another benefit of better sleep is an increase in performance during exercise and aiding in recovery. As of late, I've been trying to make more of an effort with my training. Rather than just plod along and make very little progress, I want to try and get faster and stronger and beat my times in races.

So, along with ramping up my training and incorporating some speed runs, I knew the other part I needed to focus on was my recovery and sleep!

Why is sleep important for exercise?
When we train hard, our muscles need time to rest. When we sleep, it gives our body the time it needs to repair and regenerate damaged tissues from a work or a run and builds muscle(and bone!) ready for our next session.
When you're sleep deprived, not as much of this hormone is released and therefore our muscles don't get repaired properly, this can lead to injury.

How much sleep do you need?
Everyone is different! Some people only need six hours whilst others might need nine, like me! ;) Your lifestyle, stress, age and gender can all contribute to how much or little sleep that you need.

How do you know when you've had the correct amount of sleep for you? Sleep until you wake naturally. Though, that's not always possible with commitments! Go to bed a little earlier or if you have trouble falling asleep easily, try some of the following tips..

How to improve your sleep quality.
- Get on a schedule - Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, or at least as close to as possible. This will set the body's 'internal clock' to expect to go to sleep and wake up at a certain time each day.

-Turn off the electronics - The harsh lights from electronics like a tv or your phone tend to keep you awake and can distract you from falling asleep. Turning all electronics off and preparing yourself for sleep may help. I also find that reading a book can make me more relaxed and sleepy too!

Avoid Caffeine - As you'll know, caffeine is a stimulant that can give you energy and keep you awake, so it's best to avoid any types of drinks prior to getting into bed for some shut eye!

- Exercise Earlier! - Regular exercisers tend to find that they sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day. However, it's important to time your exercise right. As much as people might be led to believe that exercise makes you tired, it actually makes you feel more awake at first. Exercise boosts your metabolism, stimulates the release a hormone known as cortisol and it elevates your body temperature. These can make it harder for you to fall asleep. So make sure you exercise a few hours before deciding to sleep!

Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows - You obviously need to be comfortable in order to have a good nights sleep. If you're uncomfortable, you're more likely to toss and turn during the night and could wake not feeling as refreshed as you'd like and you may not recover from your training as well!

To follow on from that last point.. About 2 weeks ago, I received an Ergoflex Memory Foam Mattress with the intention of seeing whether it would have any effects inrelation to my training and recovery.

As a background, prior to receiving an Ergoflex Mattress, I had a pretty bog standard pocket sprung mattress. It was never super comfortable and I would sometimes get backache after a full nights sleep, which obviously wouldn't help with recovery if I am constantly being disturbed from sleep to get more comfortable.
Over the next few months, I'll be doing some short updates here on the blog documenting my findings of using an Ergoflex mattress as part of my training. I'm interested to see whether or not the change between our old pocket sprung mattress and a memory foam mattress will have any difference and whether it will have any significant difference to my training.

Disclosure: I received an Ergoflex Double Mattress for free in return for blog updates on how the Ergoflex effects my training. I am not being paid to talk about or advertise their products. All opinions are as always, my own. See my policy page HERE for more detail.

Question: What do you find helps you sleep better? What kind of Mattress do you have?

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  1. Penny Plain Fit1 June 2016 at 09:43

    I go to bed very early (9pm is late-ish for me), but I also wake up very early with no alarm clock :) (5am). Without getting into anything crazy, some light yoga 1 hour before going to bed helps. And a cup of calming tea with some lemon. Also, I rarely get my phone with me in the bedroom and I have no electronics there :).

  2. @Penny Plain Fit Oh wow! I'm very much the opposite of you, I am more of a night owl than an early bird, I don't go to bed until about 11pm and cannot wake up without alarms but I am training myself to go to bed earlier and try and wake up more naturally so I dont have to rely on alarms. I may try some yoga before bed, I haven't done Yoga in a while and it was always relaxing for me! :)

  3. I do try and get to sleep before 10pm, most nights this does work but not every night. We turn off all lights, cover the tv lights etc so the room is pitch black, we've noticed we feel a lot more rested this way. We also have a tempurpedic mattress (memory foam) and since we switched 2 years ago, we sleep very well. I think you will like that mattress and not return to the pocket sprung.

  4. I definitely know that I should get to bed earlier and eliminate the electronics etc! I do have a "Sleepy Tea" to help me relax but it's usually around 11pm before I get to sleep.

  5. I am trying really hard to limit the amount of blue light I see before bedtime, but it is a really hard habit to break now. I have also set my UP3 to vibrate at 10pm so I can start getting ready for bed. It's definitely a work in progress for me right now.

  6. @Maureen I find it very difficult to get into bed willingly before 11PM. Most of the time it's closer to 12PM. xD If I get into bed any earlier, I just can't shut off and just lay there.. then get bored very quickly! - I think the Mattress is definitely helping with better sleep. I wake feeling a little more refreshed than usual.

  7. @Beki @MissWheezy It's definitely work in progress for me. I just can't seem to shut off in the evenings and still getting to bed fairly late! I've got some bedtime tea so I might actually try that!

  8. @Steph Ooh.. thats a good idea to set a little alarm to get ready! Probably not good for me though.. if I get in bed earlier, I just can't shut off and I tend to give up and get out of bed.. haha!


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