You’ll run better if you invest in a good night’s rest.
1. Run… In a poll from the National Sleep Foundation in the US, active people were more likely to report good sleep than inactive people (65 per cent versus 39 per cent). To guarantee an extra-great slumber, try completing a speed or tempo workout — vigorous exercisers were twice as likely as non-exercisers to report good sleep.
2. …but time it right. The same poll didn’t find any difference in sleep quality between morning, afternoon, and evening exercisers, but another study did. Subjects reported fewer middle-of-the-night wakings when they exercised at 7am than when they exercised at 1pm or 7pm.
3. Limit non-sleeping time in bed. (Unless you’re, well…being intimate.) Reading, writing, eating, texting, talking on the phone, surfing the web, and the like should take place outside the bedroom, so your body associates your bed with rest.
4. Unplug… Thirty minutes before going to sleep, turn off your TV, silence your phone, and shut down your computer. Bright screens can stop your body from producing the hormones that help you fall asleep. Try reading an old-fashioned paper book — or a print copy of Runner’s World.
5. …and dim the lights. Bright lights screw with your falling-asleep hormones, too. Light can also wake you, so make sure you have thick drapes covering your windows or a snug but comfortable light-shielding eye mask.
6. Keep it quiet. Do what you can to prevent noises from interrupting your slumber. If you live on a noisy street, keep your windows closed. If you have a noisy pet, keep him or her in a part of the house away from your bedroom. If you have a noisy bedmate, invest in some earplugs. (We like Hearos.)
7. Avoid alcohol, probably. A recent study concluded that alcohol, in any amount, can help you doze off, and can increase the time you spend sleeping deeply. However, it inhibits your REM sleep – the kind that helps with memory and concentration the next day – and its positive effects wear off after a few hours. Normal sleepers should avoid alcohol to get their best sleep. If you have lots of trouble falling asleep, a nightcap may help, but if it’s a consistent problem, talk to your doctor.