Want to Run Like An All-star? Sleep Like An All-star.

Mercy Health Tip of the Week by Michael J. Neeb, Ph.D., Regional Director, Mercy Sleep Services

Seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer sleeps an average of 11 hours per day. NBA all-star Lebron James reports sleeping 12 hours per night. According to Olympic triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker, “Sleep is half my training.”

Consider those factors crucial for running success. All physical activity requires an adequate supply of chemical energy from the body. Chronic sleep loss leads to a 30-40% reduction in glucose metabolism, and significantly reduces the amount of time it takes for an athlete to reach the point of physical exhaustion. Overall physical strength, as well as speed, also takes a big hit after repeated days of inadequate sleep.

Running depletes the body of energy and breaks down muscle tissue. Sleep replenishes the tired body, preparing it for the next expenditure of energy. But sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease the production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for use during physical activity.

Perhaps equally important, running demands attention and concentration — two factors that are seriously impacted by poor or restricted sleep. Numerous research studies confirm that inadequate sleep affects reaction time, accuracy, and memory — all critical ingredients for running success.

Game Plan for Optimal Sleep

  • Balance your work, school, social, and training schedule to allow for adequate time in bed.
  • Obtain 8 or more hours of sleep per night.
  • Maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule.
  • Avoid wide swings in bed times and wake times on weekends.
  • Avoid over-the-counter sleep medications that can leave you tired and sluggish the next day.
  • Reduce your consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
  • Turn off your cell phone during your night time sleep.
  • Maintain a sleeping environment that is dark, quiet and cool.
  • Stop all vigorous physical activity at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid bright lights, computers, and video games during the pre-sleep period.
  • Carve a time slot prior to bedtime for calm activities and relaxation.

* This content is not intended to replace any formal training plans directed by licensed coaches. You should always get your doctors go-ahead prior to embarking on any fitness regime. Mercy Health, Glass City Marathon and the Toledo Roadrunners Club are not offering this content to replace a monitored training plan. — Use this content as conversation starters with your doctors, nutritionists, coaches, etc.