Thoughts on Sleep Hygiene for Recovery – aka “it’s time for bed…”

Greetings everyone from the Indy Runners Medical Desk. Thanks to Jesse for getting our Blog going as a good forum to share thoughts and ideas for our Club. I’ll aim to get out some good medical thoughts as often as possible – and you can always write to me with any issues or concerns at medical@indyrunners.org.

Let’s start with a bit of a discussion about Recovery. As our mileage and workloads increase towards Fall racing, how we Recover from this workload becomes more and more important. Remember, it’s not the runs or the workouts that make us stronger – it is our ability to Recover from them that allow that Adaptations that make us stronger.

By far, the Number 1 way to allow our bodies to Recover from the work is to get a consistent good night’s sleep. At least 7-hours, hopefully more like 8-hours.

Let’s break that down. What does a “good” night’s sleep look like, and how can we facilitate it? Simple things like darkness of the room (trickier with daylight savings time in the summer), limiting screens 30-minutes before bed (trickier with phones, social media, TV shows, etc.), and cooler/reasonable temperatures (also trickier in the summer). These are all things we somewhat inherently know – but, are we good about following them?

And watch our caffeine intake in the afternoon (2:30pm diet coke to get us kick started to finish the day?). And be mindful about how alcohol affects our sleep patterns (one glass or one beer might not affect us, but a second or more might wake us up on the middle of the night?). Some of us travel quite often for work – how are we managing our sleep hygiene when we get in late or are crossing multiple time zones? And are we realistic with our Training expectations on those weeks that are the most stressful

Also, what does “consistent” look like? It might sound obvious, but consistent means consistent – 7-8 hours every single night. Not 5-6 during the week, then 9-10 on the weekend; or 5.5 one night, then 8.5 the next to “catch up”.

Each of us are different between being more “morning people” or more “evening people”. Usually, it’s easier to get more sleep by going to bed a little earlier. Let’s do some Math – if we can start by getting 10-minutes extra sleep for 6-nights per week, that is a whole Hour of extra sleep each week! That would certainly serve as a meaningful boost in our Training!

So our Homework for the month of August is to take an honest look at our Sleep Hygiene and thoughtfully discern what habits are helpful and what habits we might tweak to get the most out of this important time for our bodies to regenerate from the workload they’ve been handling. We don’t need large changes to make a difference. A few small changes at a time could pay big dividends over the coming weeks as we build towards good Racing.

Please let us know if you have any insights or tips you might like to share. And any questions, please send them along.

Thanks and see you out there.

Brian Schuetter, PT, DPT, OCS – St. Vincent Sports Performance