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Sleep Zzzzzzzzzzz

The importance of sleep for running performance and recovery

Increasingly we understand more about the power of sleep and how essential quality sleep is to our bodies’ ability to recover and our wider mental and physical health and perhaps most critically prevention of disease. It is also essential for recovery from training and improved running performance.


Here are 10 great reasons why you should be prioritising sleep as part of your training:


  1. Sleep is crucial for recovery from the daily stress of life and work.

  2. Quality sleep, plays a critical role in enabling the body to respond to the training stimulus and make physiological adaptations

  3. It supports restorative functions like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis and growth hormone release occur mostly during sleep.

  4. Inadequate sleep has negative effects on cognitive function, mood and motivation.

  5. People with poor and short sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep

  6. Poor sleep can affect training and competition directly, through fatigue.

  7. Or indirectly, through increased performance anxiety.

  8. Sleep disturbances can increase the risk for sickness and exercise-induced injuries.

  9. Increased in inflammation due to a surge in your body’s production of inflammatory cytokines, alongside a reduction in inflammation-fighting proteins

  10. And research shows that sleeping 7-8 hours a night of good quality sleep will help you live longer!

The Polar Ignite range offers the ability to track sleep and review this through Polar Flow. Its easy to believe you are getting 7 or 8 hours good quality sleep every night but sleep tracking can indicate much more about what is happening during the night.




  • Sleep Plus Stages gives insights into the amount and quality of your sleep based on an automatic measurement.

  • It measures multiple sleep metrics reflecting the quality of your sleep. These parameters together with sleep duration are summarized into a Sleep Score.

  • Sleep Plus Stages shows detailed information on how your sleep cycled through awake and different sleep stages: Light sleep, Deep sleep and REM sleep.


Usually sleep cycles proceed from Light sleep into Deep sleep and then back up to REM sleep. A typical night’s sleep of a young healthy adult consists of 4 to 5 sleep cycles. This equals to a sleep time of approximately 8 hours.


Light sleep

Light sleep serves as a transition stage between wakefulness and the deeper stages of sleep. You can be easily awoken from light sleep since your responsiveness to the environmental stimulus remains quite high. Light sleep also promotes mental and physical recovery, although REM and deep sleep are the most important sleep stages in that regard.


Deep sleep

Deep sleep is the stage of sleep where it is hard to be awakened since your body is little responsive to environmental stimulus. Most deep sleep occurs during the first half of the night. This sleep stage restores your body and supports your immune system. It also affects certain aspects of memory and learning.


REM sleep

REM stands for rapid eye movement. In REM sleep your brain is active but your muscles are inactive to avoid acting out dreams. Just as deep sleep restores your body, REM sleep restores your mind, and enhances memory and learning.


Frequently having nights without adequate deep sleep periods with a higher resting heart rate is an indicator that your body is not fully recovering and leaving you tired and lethargic the next day.


The Polar Ignite also offers a Nightly Recharge feature.

  • Your nightly recharge status reflects how your body was able to recover from training and stress.

  • It combines information on how well your autonomic nervous system (ANS) calmed down during the early hours of your sleep and how you slept.


Banishing phones, tablets, laptops and TVs from the bedroom, and avoiding caffeine, sugar and alcohol late at night can increase the level of continuous sleep and significantly reduce your heart rate during sleep.


So, in day to day living, good quality restorative sleep, will help you feel refreshed and more alert the next day. But sleep plays an even greater role in prevention of disease and for those involved in endurance sports, recovery from training.


Poor sleep is linked to an increased risk of hypokinetic diseases such stroke, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Lack of regular quality sleep also reduces our overall immune function reducing the body’s ability to fight off illness.

For endurance athletes, recovery and critically quality sleep, plays a critical role in enabling the body to respond to the training stimulus and make the physiological adaptations that ultimately make you faster and stronger. We have all experienced those periods of a season when performances are not quite where we hoped. Niggles are becoming more frequent and a general drop off of form and motivation. Its easy to fixate on making changes to our training plan or our nutrition but the issue can often lie in the those hours we are asleep, with our body failing to ever drop into a deep sleep phase to enable the training to take effect.


Polar Ignite offers a significant step forward in offering endurance athletes a deeper understanding of what is happening in their sleep and how this may be playing a part in their recovery.


Improvements in regular sleep may well be the piece of the jigsaw that once addressed will see the big leap in performance that had previously seemed out of reach. So the old mantra of ‘eat, sleep, train, repeat’, has never seemed more apt.


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