Last Updated on September 27, 2019 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP
*I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by the maker of Advil® PM and I received a free sample of Advil® PM caplets. All opinions expressed are my own.*
One of the great things about sponsored posts is that it gives me time to discuss topics that while relative to running and fitness, are something I might not have otherwise visited without such a prompt.
And today’s topic? Sleep. And of course running, and pain, and how the two can affect my sleep patterns.
6 years ago I was juggling a 2 year old who still didn’t sleep through the night and a newborn, who you probably guessed it…didn’t sleep through the night. If you had asked me then I would have told you that sleep was overrated. The truth was I was so sleep deprived and delirious, I would have said anything to convince myself that I didn’t need the sleep anyway.
You know how people tell new moms that “one day you’ll miss this phase”? Well they were wrong. I don’t miss those sleepless nights AT ALL. Thankfully these days everyone sleeps through the night 98% of the time, myself included.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the number of hours of sleep recommended for adults age 24-64 is 7-9 hours. This window varies greatly based on personal activity levels and needs. My magic sleep number is about 7 hours of sleep, anything less or more and I wake up feeling sluggish and lethargic.
These days when I can’t sleep, it’s not because of a 3 month old crying to be fed or a 2 year old who would rather be watching Blues Clue’s than staying in his toddler bed. Instead it’s typically because I’ve demanded too much from my body, both exhausting it and over-stimulating it at the same time. Whether it be restless legs from a tough race or training run, or delayed onset muscle soreness from a heavy lifting or hard training session, sometimes the pain is enough to keep me awake. Yet sleepless nights are not something my training as an athlete and career as a fitness professional can afford. Sleep is absolutely imperative for recovery; it is during sleep when our body repairs muscle and damaged tissues, as well as replacing dead cells and clearing the body of waste product.
So when I can’t sleep due to training pain, these are my go to (sleep) steps:
1) Hydrate. Hydration is essential for overall health as a whole. Optimal hydration helps flush your body waste products and helps promote recovery. But being properly hydrated can also help with sleep. Dehydration can have very serious neurological effects and disrupt cognitive functioning…including sleep.
2) Stretch/Foam Roll. Stretching and foam rolling will help relax your muscles, break-up adhesions, soften connective tissues, flush out metabolic waste and increase circulation into your tired muscles. Plus it’s like a self massage, which can be mentally relaxing as well.
3) Take a Hot Bath. Research has shown that ice baths can help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness immediately after exercise. However, for me, nothing sounds less appealing than sitting in a tub full of ice when I’m trying to relax. A warm bath (though not too hot) will not only help you relax mentally, but it will help dialate blood vessels, bringing fresh blood and oxygen to sore muscles, which will help promote recovery.
4) OTC medication. When the pain is too much to bear and preventing me from sleeping, I’ll occasionally reach for a product like Advil® PM to help me sleep. Advil® PM is specifically designed for nighttime pain, combining the unsurpassed pain relief of Advil plus a non-habit forming sleep aid to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. While medicated pain relievers are usually a last resort for me, when they are absolutely necessary they come in INCREDIBLY useful, giving me the pain relief and sleep I so desperately need.
The people at Advil® PM wanted me to pass on the word to my readers that if you currently visit AdvilPM.com, you can get a free sample of Advil® PM to try for yourself. Also, there is a free Sleep Library with articles and videos discussing sleep, sleep irregularity, and numerous suggestions on how you can get a better healing nights sleep.
Reader Question: What are your go-to tricks when the pain from running or training keeps you awake at night?
*Please check with your physician before starting any new OTC medications.