How a lack of sleep affects the physical ability of a runner


Only those, for whom sports are the main activity, can train a lot and sleep a lot during the preparation for a competition. But what should do those for whom the jogging is a hobby? Except for the training plan, which takes a lot of time, there is still work, home, family, and often very little time is left for sleep.

General Information

In the modern life rhythm restful sleep is considered something of a luxury, not available to everyone. But if the sport has become a part of your life, sleep should move from the category of “luxury” in the category of “default”, as during sleep our body regenerates its resources.

Researches in this area have shown that one night without sleep has a full impact on your results. Chronic lack of sleep, even if it’s only an hour less than it it’s needed, tends to accumulate and lead to negative consequences for your health and sports. Good sleep is as important to improve your results, as well-planned workout.

Unfortunately, there are no special tests that would define how many hours of sleep a certain person needs, but the average adult person needs from seven to nine hours of full sleep. However, “more” doesn’t mean “better”. Sleep should be of a really good quality. Exercises have a positive influence on the quality of sleep. This is due to the fact that the body produces adenosine – endogenous purine nucleoside that modulates many physiological processes.

Adenosine plays an important role in biochemicalprocesses, such as energy transfer — asadenosine triphosphate (ATP) and adenosine diphosphate (ADP) — as well as in signal transduction as cyclic adenosine monophosphate(cAMP). It is also a neuromodulator, believed to play a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal.


So people who are engaged in running or other exercises may need less sleep than those who keep to physically inactive lifestyle. Your body will start giving you signals when there will be lack of sleeping hours. You’ll go out like a light immediately as head touches the pillow, napping at meetings and drinking liters of coffee.

If your body wants to sleep just in a few hours after waking up, it means that you need more sleep than you allow yourself at the moment.

Gradually, lack of sleep will lead to hormonal changes. As a result, the heartbeat rate increases and the nervous system will always be on alert.

Human growth hormone, which is also responsible for restoring the muscles and bones, is produced by the pituitary gland during deep sleep phase. The less you sleep the slower recovery of tired and inflamed muscles after workouts runs. The ability of your muscles to store glycogen is reduced, which means that you risk being left without recharge during training regardless of distance.

Also do not forget that during sleep not only our physical body is restoring, but also structuring of the received information occurs. Running is a great experience and new information. While jogging your brain analyzes information about the world around you. It’s information on how your body moves relative to the surrounding space. During sleep, all this information is processed, compiled and cataloged. A lack of sleep makes you irritable, inattentive and prone to injury.

If we talk about the general dangers of not getting enough sleep for the body, it is worth mentioning the increase of the risk to gain weight, to get sick often (lowered immunity) and to get chronic diseases, such as, for example, type II diabetes.

The night before the race

Before the competition we rarely sleep well. If this is your first race, then you cannot fall asleep because of the adrenaline. But you still need to sleep.

Without sleeping before the race every time you will feel much more tired than if you had a good sleep. Moreover, this sleepless night does not affect your speed and power, but it has a big effect on the morale and willingness to do something with an effort.

And even if you are lucky and you do not feel any particular problems after a night without sleep before the race, it’s not worth doing it again!

How to determine the optimum hours of sleep

The ideal variant for determining the optimal number of sleeping hours is a week of vacation. Note your bedtime hour, don’t set the alarm clock, wake up, record the time of your awakening and analyze your state during the day and how you will feel in the evening. Nearly on the fourth day you will be able to determine your arithmetic mean of the needed number of sleeping hours.

How to restore the balance

You can think well and exclude from your daily routine the things that could be neglected for the sake of sleep. 30 minutes will be enough! For example, you can give up checking email or reading the night feeds in social networks.


Watch your body and its reaction, don’t ignore the warning signs, otherwise all the trainings will be in vain.


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