This time of year can be a crossroads for most athletes. We’re about a month into our New Year’s Resolutions or we are starting to gear up for the beginning of our race season. The excitement of re-entering the training cycle has worn off and the reward of race season hasn’t begun yet. I am sure you did your research on what your workouts should entail, what your nutrition plan should look like, and what you need to have in regards to equipment and apparel to ensure you are comfortable while you are training and racing. One particular aspect many athletes and especially newbies overlook is the power of sleep. Sleep plays a critical role in the way we perform. The effects are huge both mentally and physically and sleep will allow your body to push through the doldrums of pre-season boredom.
With proper sleep it allows us to stay sharp and ready to go for each workout. If we start to lack sleep we start to feel sluggish and lethargic. With these feelings, it becomes very tempting for us to skip workouts and if we do choose to workout, lack of sleep will pressure us into slacking off and not putting in a good effort. You can almost think of the old adage of the devil and the angel on your shoulder. Lack of sleep will be that temptation voice saying “my body just isn’t up for it today”. Whereas the angelic state of a full night’s rest will encourage your body and mind to give it everything you have each and every time you train.” We don’t want to get in the habit of skipping workouts, each time we do this it becomes easier and easier to put it on the back burner.
From a physical standpoint, sleep is the time when our body repairs itself. This time is critical as our body prepares itself for the next day of workouts and our daily routines. We need to make sure we are allowing our body the time it needs to fully recover. Making sure we are fully rested also helps keep us healthy. Keeping our body fresh and energized helps keep our immune system strong, which in affect will allow us to stay healthy and produce better results in our training. It is all about balance and once we start to feel drained from all the hustle and bustle of the world around us, we need to take a step back and make our adjustments. Start with making your rest a priority and you will reap the benefits. Sleep works wonders for your body so take advantage of the easiest thing we can do – SLEEP. Sweet Dreams!