Steinar B Adalbjornsson, M.Sc., RD.

Are you making the most out of your exercise by getting enough sleep?

You are exercising, using appropriate food supplements, getting your massage and more. But are you doing what is most important for every runner; getting enough sleep?

Ten months ago I had a new life experience. During one of my winter bike rides on my lovely TREK Superfly 100 bike, I had a heart attack. Not your typical heart attack with blood clot causing restricted blood flow to the heart, but a heart attack related to long term high exercise load, also during times when I had the flu and felt sick. In about one month, a virus in the wall of the heart made its way into the heart, causing inflammation and weakening the heart muscle. And during this winter ride, the heart eventually gave in.

This post is not for you to become empathetic as I am well on my way to a total recovery from my accident and I’m working towards a great physical shape again – this time though with a smart approach! ;)

Being a registered dietitian, my diet has always been great. I also have a degree in Physical Education, so exercise and sport activity has always been a way of life for me. What I had a hard time with was to know my limitations, mostly my physical limitations, as my mind was able to take me anywhere I wanted (and sometimes too far – I’m sure you know what I mean :) ).

In light of my experience, I had to make some changes. Work less, workout only when I was without any symptoms of flu or sickness and sleep more!
And I can tell you this: my life has change drastically.

As with most of us, I still work too much and most likely workout too hard and for too long each time, but my sleep patterns are different from before.

Five days a week I go to sleep no later than 11 pm and wake up around 7 am. This is not a significant change from before. However, two times a week I go to sleep between 9 and 10 pm and still wake up around 7 am. This change has made a huge difference for me. I could make a list of all the benefits of adequate sleep in terms of physical markers like breakdown hormones and such. But I will just say this:

My health is superb and I feel great! And I think additional sleep has a lot to do with that!

Kari Steinn Karlsson, who participated in the London Olympic Games last year, and was placed 42nd in the marathon event has a great “formula” that all of us should use:

“For every hour I am awake, I owe myself 30 minutes of sleep”

Are you making the most out of your exercise by getting enough sleep?

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