12 weeks to a half: sleep it off [week 8]

coffee sleep when deadif it was humanly possible to function without sleeping, i would do so. and don’t think i don’t try every now and then. for me, life is like one of those revolving sushi bars – there’s always something new to see, try, do.   it is nearly impossible to get my mind to stop going 90-to-nothin’ so my nights usually go as follows:

1) get home from the gym and eat dinner
2) turn on ‘how i met your mother’ or ‘friends’ to unwind
3) on a good night, i fall asleep and head to bed – but more often than not, ocd kicks in…
4) so i open up my laptop – ya know, just to check a few emails
5) and i work until 1 or 2…or 3.
6) i wake up in the middle of the night (or early morning) hugging my laptop on the couch in the fetal position as though it’s my teddy bear. (scratch that, i currently have a hate-hate relationship with my laptop – it’s so not deserving of that title)
7) i stumble to bed and crash for another few hours until my dreaded alarm goes off.

i don’t need sleep, i run on pure-octane coffee! don’t get me wrong: i love to sleep. i just hate that it interrupts life! and this is coming from someone who knows all the health benefits of sleep and its correlation to weight loss:

  • SNOOZE TO LOSE: people who sleep  fewer than 4 hours sleep per night consume approximately 329 more calories/day than those that doze for 8!
  • SCIENCE SAYS: sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on hormones that control appetite, cravings and the metabolism of fat.
  • CRAPPY CORTISOL: lack of sleep causes your bod to create the nasty stress hormone cortisol that causes your body to store abdominal fat.

but i’m not trying to lose weight, you might say. ah, but get this, there are other negative impacts sleeplessness can have other than a not-so-svelte physique.

  • stress-case, like life just overwhelms you. (you made my latte with 2% milk? really? oh, the nerve!)
  • say what? huh? your memory goes bye-bye.
  • focus and the ability to concentrate go out the, hey – look bright shiny object!
  • cranky pants…negative nancy…you get the idea. (me? never!)
  • creativity gets killed – and new ideas are hard to come by.
  • boost in resting blood pressure + risk of heart attack.
  • increased appetite and food intake – because inevitably hunger strikes at 2am right? (again, me – never!)

so knowing all this, one might think i would put 2 + 2 together and get some sleep? no, not really.  until i started running, that is.  because training for this half-marathon has pushed me to new limits, i’m more in tune with how every little choice affect my running. before this, i could easily go knock out a few miles. i could hit the gym dragging, lift some weights, and call it a day. i could even sneak through spin class after a sleepless night. but hit the pavement for eight miles with no sleep? not so much. and now i have this thing called a garmin that calls me out when i’m running a pathetic pace. and these things called lungs that suck wind when i haven’t slept a wink. don’t forget the lame limbs called legs that feel like tree trunks. oh yes, a sleepless night and my runs suffer severely.  so trust me, i do not get my 8 hours of shut eye because i just love sleeping my life away – quite the contrary. but for the same reason i’ve given up drinking adult beverages until the half-marathon, it’s called: survival.

i didn’t have to read an article to quickly learn this the hard way. but i hit up runner’s world to learn exactly why shut-eye is essential for optimal performance :

  • muscle recovery
    “during the third and fourth stages of a typical sleep cycle, when a body heals itself, is when the human growth hormone (HGH) is released from the pituitary gland.” (no, not the performance enhancing drug – the natural kind your bod produces) “it plays a key role in building and repairing muscle tissue and bones, as well as acting as a catalyst for the body to use fat as fuel. without the right amount of HGH in the blood, recovery from workouts is hindered, prolonging the time it takes the body to build a strong aerobic engine.”
  • metabolism cannibalism 
    “decreased sleep of only a few days can cause a disruption in glucose metabolism. glucose metabolism is the process responsible for storing energy from the food we eat and is why marathoners carbo-load before a big race or long run. with impaired glycogen synthesis runners can’t get their glycogen stores as high, which means they may bonk sooner during longer runs or races than if they were well-rested.”
  • taper down, rest up
    “the one thing most runners, coaches and doctors agree on is being well-rested leading up to a race. in the final weeks of training — or actually tapering — you can do more by sleeping than you can by running. that’s when sleep should really become your primary training component and biggest focus.” (note: we’ll start tapering in a few weeks – so i’ll revisit this!)

so as we head into the last 5 weeks of training, start logging your hours of sleep in your fitbook. track the quality of your runs when you get your zzz’s compared to when you play like a vampire. a few rough runs and i promise you, you’ll learn to appreciate a full 7 or 8 hours of sleep.

what are your tips to fit in your zzz’s or get to bed? share them – i need them!

sleepily yours,

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