Yes, I'm seriously going to talk about a blanket that helps you perform as a runner, so get comfortable and settle in while I unpack a bit of the science here. This could be the best news you've heard all day!
First things first. You need to know what this "special blanket" is we're talking about. Ever heard of weighted blankets? Until recently I had never heard about how powerful they are, and the positive impact that they can have on so many aspects of our health.......seriously it's a long list!
As I've done some research and learned more, I was ecstatic to learn that using a weighted blanket can have a big impact on running performance. There are a few ways that these heavy beasts help, all of which are directly linked to sleep. Yes, I said sleep. You need more of it, or at least more quality sleep and a weighted blanket could be your answer.
The Deal On Sleeping
Sleep affects almost every tissue and system in the body. A strict regimen of good sleep and nutrition greatly improves a runners performance, resistance to injury, and recovery.
Scientific research is showing that good sleep promotes tissue growth and repair, hormonal and chemical rebalancing, and the de-stressing of organs and muscles, and as runners......our muscles are stressed!
By applying deep touch pressure, weighted blankets naturally stimulate the brain's production of melatonin and serotonin. This pressure of the weighted blanket creates a sense of calmness and feeling of well being, kinda like when you got a warm hug as a kid from your mom. Ultimately this allows you to go to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
How Sleep Works
It's more than just lay down, close your eyes and......walla you're sleeping. The quality of your sleep is determined by the sleep-wake-cycle of which there are two important components:
1) Slow Wave Sleep
2) REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)
During slow wave sleep, the body relaxes, breathing becomes more regular, blood pressure drops, and the brain becomes less responsive to external stimuli. This phase is critical for physical renewal and repair of the body.
During slow wave sleep, the pituitary gland releases growth hormone, which stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair. Research also shows that the body's immune system is also being repaired at this stage of the sleep cycle.
As you can see there are some critical functions happening during this part of the cycle, but for many people who struggle to get "quality sleep' for a multitude of reasons you're depriving yourself of a significant portion of these physical benefits.
REM sleep is to the mind, what slow wave sleep is to the body. The brain is relatively quiet during most of the sleep phases, but during REM your brain comes to life, clearing out irrelevant information, boosting your memory by connecting the experiences of the previous day, and facilitates learning and neural growth.
Typically, the REM phase occurs in short bursts about 3 - 5 times per night. If you starve yourself of sleep or have less than quality time in bed your brain becomes foggy and cannot operate at its optimum level.
In a sport such as running that has such a huge reliance on the mind-body connection, you can see why a total, quality sleep cycle is critical to your performance.
Just Like in a Marathon....You Can't Bank Time
If you've ever gone out super fast at the start of a race (haven't we all!?) you will understand the connection here to our sleep.
Bottom line, you can't "catch up" on sleep.
Sleep deprivation accumulates, so if you are getting less than an adequate amount during the week, you can't just get a couple quality sleep in's on the weekend and catch up. Yes, that can help, but ultimately you should be sleeping in the ballpark of 7 - 9 hours every night if you want to optimize your performance. And we're talking solid sleep here, not the flipping and flopping kind of sleep that results from being over stressed.
How to Fall Asleep Fast
In order to get the maximum benefit from sleep, you now know that you need to maximize not only the quality of your sleep but the quantity. Here are a few ways you can fall asleep faster:
"Power Down" your devices - The blue wavelength of light from your iPad, laptop and televisions can hinder melatonin production meaning your body isn't preparing the hormones it needs to enter the sleep phase. Try and detach from your devices 60 minutes before you hit the sack.
Calm Mind - Working late at night can keep your mind racing and your stress levels high, which also prevents the body from calming down for sleep.
Relaxation Techniques - Proven methods include daily journaling, deep breathing exercises, meditation and of course exercise such as running! I use the 5-minute journal at the start and end of my day as a way to relax and let the stress of the day go.
Weighted Blankets - Incorporate a weighted blanket into your sleep regimen and be blown away. The deep touch pressure produces a calming sensation by naturally increasing the melatonin and serotonin and decreases cortisol. Plus they feel amazing!
Want to learn even more about these magic blankets!? Check out Ballast Blankets for more info and grab your one! After learning first hand about this mega sleep hack we were excited to partner with these guys. See below for a special offer for you our readers!
Ballast Blankets Website: https://ballastblankets.com
Happy Running.....and Hopefully soon....Happy Sleeping.
Special Blanket Bonus (......Never though I would ever say that!)
We have a speical promo code with our Friends at Ballast Blankets. Use the code "LEGACY" at checkout and get 50% a custom carry case.
PS - You'll want to take this blanket everywhere....trust me!