Got a race coming up? Heed these sleep tips

A group of runners passes through California in early June. PHOTO VIA ONE RUN FOR BOSTON.
A group of runners passes through California in early June. PHOTO VIA ONE RUN FOR BOSTON.

It’s fall, which means the New York City Marathon is right around the corner. Even if you’ve got a race coming up that isn’t 26.2 miles (like the Women’s Health RUN 10 FEED 10 race this weekend — check out our interview with Lauren Bush Lauren here!) you still need to make sure you get a good night’s sleep pre- and post-race. Heed these tips from Dr. Robert Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute and a consultant for Sleepy’s:
Pre-race
1. Sleep a minimum of 8 hours before the race.

2. Get your gear set out the night before the race. You’ve got enough to worry about so don’t let those details interfere with sleep (P.S. it will also allow you to sleep the extra few minutes in the morning!)

3. If you typically hit snooze a million times in the morning, you may have a difficult time waking up for the race. Get ahead of this by performing your training runs at similar times to the race start time.

4. If you like a jolt of caffeine right before a race make sure that you avoid caffeine the day before the race. Pre-race jitters are bad enough at reducing sleep.

5. Pre-race carb loading? Don’t go crazy! Going to bed on a very full stomach can impact your sleep. Start your carb loading two to three days before the race as you decrease your running in preparation for the race.

6. Chill out! Make sure your bedroom temperature is below 70 degrees (better at 65 to 68). We need a decrease in core body temperature to sleep so this will help keep you asleep.

 

Post-race
1. Oversleep! Sleep helps our body and our minds recover after a race. Make sure and plan on sleeping a minimum of 8 hours or more for at least 3 days after the race.

2. Post- race soreness is normal and is often treated with NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Some of these are great at reducing pain but may reduce the quality of your sleep. There are several natural anti-inflammatories that can be taken throughout your training that may not interfere with your sleep. You can try EPA-DHA with Co Q10, Glucosamine with Chondroiten, or Curcumin. You need to plan on doing these for at least 4 weeks prior to the race if you want to see benefit after the race.

3. If you do caffeine prior to the race, avoid it after the race. Caffeine has a 12 hour half-life which means it can impact your ability to fall asleep the night after the race.

4. Cheers! If you plan on celebrating your race, make sure and keep it to a minimum of two drinks. Alcohol will impact your ability to get the proper sleep you need for recovery.

5. If you like to take an ice bath after the race, try and follow it up with a hot shower prior to sleeping. The hot shower will help your body reduce its core body temperature which is needed for sleep.


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