As you lay out your conditioning schedule and optimize your nutrition, there’s one key variable not to overlook as your plan your training—and that’s your sleep. As one of the three essentials to life, after water and, in fact, more important than food(!), sleep is also critical to build the energy reserves needed to power through a long run and crush every mile.
Don’t undermine your best efforts by trying to train and run on less than a full tank! We can’t always get more time in bed, but with a few simple tips, you can improve your response time, increase your focus and even retain better memory of your best course strategy.
Here’s how to improve your sleep routine and get more out of your race:
Check Your Thermostat!
One of the most important things you can control in your sleep environment is your temperature. This is a great tip, especially for travel—get your room at the right level of coolness before you try to go to sleep. Your body naturally cycles to drop 2 degrees each night to enable cellular regeneration. Help your body by adjusting your thermostat to 65–67 degrees and use products that help keep that air moving.
Sleeping hot, cold, or clammy is an indication that your mattress, sheets, blanket, and clothing could be trapping excess body heat and moisture. Overheating is a major contributor to sleep disruption, causing unnecessary tossing and turning. While some measure of waking up in the night is normal, prolonged periods of sleep disruption will negatively impact feeling refreshed when you wake.
Ensure Spinal Alignment
Just like during your run, the posture of your body at night can be a significant factor in helping you reach your personal best. Throughout the day, for every half-inch that your head tilts forward of your proper shoulder position, that creates an extra 20 lbs. of pressure on your lower back. The same applies when you sleep—having your head, jaw, neck, and shoulders out of alignment will create pressure points, including lumbar and hip pain. Find the right fit of a pillow that supports the span of your shoulders and the weight of your chin will keep your upper body from causing twists and torque in your lower spine. A pillow placed between your knees can also help to keep your hips aligned and let your spine relax.
Likewise, if you tend to sleep with your arm beneath your pillow, this is typically a sign that your pillow does not fit! Instead of tossing your pillow out of bed each night, find the right profile and cushioning for your sleep position and body frame, just like you get fit for the correct shoe support. Start at bedgear.com/pillow-id to learn what pillow is recommended for you.
Even if you only have a few hours to rest up, proper spinal alignment is key to reducing restlessness and pressure points that wake you up at night. Your mattress provides just 70% of your overall sleep comfort—the other 30% comes from your pillow, as 8 out of your 24 spinal vertebrae are directly impacted by the position of your head, neck, and shoulders.
Prepare in Advance
How can runners get around feeling “off schedule” when you arrive at your race?
- Begin by booking a flight with an early evening arrival time and go to sleep at 10:00 p.m. local time. Taking a walk around the city after you land will help stretch your legs from the plane and burn off restlessness before you go to bed.
- Stay hydrated on the plane—consume even more than your usual amount of water and avoid stimulants, such as caffeine and alcohol, up to four hours prior to heading to bed.
- Bring a pillow that fits you well and you'll get better rest, no matter what hotel you are staying in. Feeling comfortable will help you fall asleep more easily and wake ready; bring along your favorite pillowcase to enjoy even more of the comforts of home and feel more relaxed when you lay down in an unfamiliar space.
Last—don’t worry if the night before your big race isn’t your best rest! Adrenaline and early wake-up times can make it hard to get your typical amount of sleep. If you find it hard to fall asleep the evening of, try meditation as an alternate way to reset and rejuvenate. Your body’s critical sleep reserves are built by a consistency of habits created in the weeks before your competition, so get fit today to incorporate personalized rest into your nights.
About BEDGEAR® PERFORMANCE®
BEDGEAR® is the only brand of Performance® sleep products. BEDGEAR introduced personalized fit pillows and the new M3 mattress to provide 100% of each individual’s total sleep comfort, based upon a fitting process the company pioneered to address both sleep position and body frame. Since inception, BEDGEAR has partnered with professional athletes to support their training regimens and inspire a more awake and connected population. BEDGEAR products have become the go-to brand for more than 15 professional and Olympic championship sports teams and to the world's largest marathon, the TCS New York City Marathon. Sleep Fuels Everything®! Learn more at bedgear.com
Share your secrets to getting a good night’s rest before a marathon with BEDGEAR and fellow runners in the Instagram post above!