How Much Sleep Do Runners Need?

Embrace the Power Nap

Naps are not a replacement for adequate sleep at night, but can give you a boost in alertness and energy before a workout or competition.  

Be sure, however, to avoid napping longer than 30 minutes, or risk what’s called “sleep inertia,” a lingering groggy feeling after you wake up, experts say. 

Prioritize sleep with the same level of consistency and attention to detail that you pay your runs.

Make Sleep a Priority

Rest should be a critical component of a runner’s training. That consistent schedule for your runs should also apply to sleep. 

“Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and avoid social jet lag on the weekend—going to bed later and waking up later,” Mah says. 

Easily lose track of time in the evening? Mah suggests setting an alarm on your phone 30 minutes before your scheduled bedtime so you know to start winding down.

Develop Good Habits

Say good night early to social media. 

“Using an electronic device for even as little as 30 minutes before bedtime has been shown to negatively impact sleep quality by reducing and delaying melatonin,” Bender says. “Even if you don’t think it affects you, the research shows it does.”

Avoid caffeine late in the day and alcohol, which might help you fall asleep, but will disrupt your sleep later in the night. Creating a sleep-friendly environment is also important. 

“Make your bedroom like a cave—dark, quiet, cool and comfortable,” says Mah. Use black-out curtains and a white noise device or fan to minimize outside light and sound. Wear earplugs if you need to. Make sure your sleeping surface is comfortable and don't watch TV or do office work in your bedroom. Establish a relaxing routine—like reading or doing yoga—before you snap off the lights. 

In general, just be sure to prioritize sleep with the same level of consistency and attention to detail that you pay your runs. Before long you’ll notice that great sleep will lead to great runs.

Sweet dreams!

 

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About the Author

Theresa Juva-Brown

Theresa Juva-Brown is a New York City-based journalist and former Gannett reporter who has covered a variety of topics, including breaking news, transportation and health. Theresa ran cross-country and track competitively for The University at Albany and has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University. She contributes to ACTIVE.com, Competitor Running, and Runner's World/Zelle. Follow her on Twitter at @TJuva.
Theresa Juva-Brown is a New York City-based journalist and former Gannett reporter who has covered a variety of topics, including breaking news, transportation and health. Theresa ran cross-country and track competitively for The University at Albany and has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University. She contributes to ACTIVE.com, Competitor Running, and Runner's World/Zelle. Follow her on Twitter at @TJuva.

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