One of the worst sounds is an alarm clock. One of the worst feelings is rising from the bed after hitting snooze one more time on said alarm clock. I’m a sleep snob. For me, sleep is a sweet escape. It’s probably the only time my body is fully relaxed. I’m sure if I wasn’t hypothyroid, sleeping wouldn’t come so easy to me. And when I was in tip- top shape this winter, sleeping was even easier!
Over the years, I’ve learned that I am fully functional with 7-9 hours of sleep a night. While I can get by on less come Friday morning (there’s something about Fridays that make it easy to thrive off 5 hours or less of sleep), I cannot on other days. And if I sleep too much (10+) on the weekends, I am dragging by the end of the day. What intrigues me the most, though, are those people (and runners) who can get by on less than 7 hours of sleep a night consistently.
At the extreme end, there’s Tera Moody, a 2:31 marathoner who struggles with chronic insomnia. A few years back, Runner’s World chronicled her struggle to get sleep. Moody’s struggle is not too uncommon but compound it with her intense training and one begins to wonder how she functions! That said, there are multiple sleep disorders on the extreme ends that Oddee.com recently outlined, like the girl who sleeps for ten days at a time! I’m sure if I could, I would sleep for ten days at a time. Oh, peaceful feeling.
Nonetheless, serious sleep disturbances require advanced medical consultation. However, if you find yourself somewhere in between the spectrum, such as occasional difficulty with falling asleep, some remedies that do help include a melatonin supplement, using a relaxing sound machine, and prioritizing sleep, just as you would with other things in your schedule, such as running. This means establishing a bedtime routine no matter what your age. As I write this, James is taking a “ten minute” nap with his laptop, the lights still on. We have a habit of taking “ten minute” naps that turn into four hour sleep segments broken up into the night. It’s probably best to avoid “ten minute” naps as much as possible if you are trying to prioritize! Lastly, good ol’ fashioned counting sheep can also help as it allows you to let go of the day’s stresses and tomorrow’s worries. Many of sleep problems are due to stress spilling over into a time when your body is screaming for a break. Let it rest!
Who I admire the most are those running parents (and especially the new ones) who juggle everything and often survive off less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Or the career focused runners who have action packed schedules and still find time to train, many at an elite level. I know I can never be one of them. My love for sleep is one of the reasons I chose a job that’s not 9-5 and one of the reasons having children is low on my checklist. Yes, I’m selfish. Especially when it comes to sleep.
What about you? What is your optimal sleep schedule? If you sleep less than 7 hours a night, how do you do it?