Day 139: I Enjoy Sleep… Especially After Long Runs

Recently I’ve been sleeping longer each night, especially since my 26-miler last month. I have happily indulged this need (and desire) for sleep. And I’m not just talking about getting a few hours extra sleep the following night or three after the run. I have noticed an ongoing, night-after-night pattern of getting extra sleep for several weeks afterward. And since I have done two marathon-distance runs in the past month, sleeping longer has pretty much become a regular thing.

When looking at my sleep data on Fitbit, I definitely notice a connection between longer sleep and my long runs. Here are my nightly sleep averages per month for the past year:

(Note: These times refer to the amount of time Fitbit says I actually slept–not including being awake in bed, which Fitbit says is often an additional 60 to 90 minutes for me. Occasionally the Fitbit has been off in its readings, missing times when I was actually asleep. And clearly, a monthly average misses a lot of nuance.)

Week ofAverage SleepThat Month’s Long Runs
December 20216 hrs 48 minCIM (26.2 miles)
January 20226 hrs 34 min
February 20226 hrs 18 min
March 20225 hrs 59 minShamrock’n Half Marathon, 15 mile run
April 20226 hrs 30 min14 and 15 mile runs, American Parkway Half Marathon
May 20225 hrs 55 min
June 20225 hrs 56 min
July 20225 hrs 54 min
August 20226 hrs 6 min15 and 17 mile runs
September 20226 hrs 12 min20 and 23 mile runs
October 20226 hrs 39 mintwo 14 mile runs and 26 mile run
November 20227 hrs 3 min27.5 mile run
(The higher average sleep in italics corresponds with periods of intense long runs)

Let’s break this down. First of all, since I started tracking my sleep with my Fitbit early last year, it typically says I get about 6 hours sleep on a typical night. On the chart above, anything above that seems to be related to my long runs.

For instance, last December my average sleep was almost 7 hours. No surprise: I had run CIM on December 5th! The rest of the month I slept it off. I was obviously still sleeping it off in January, which shows an average of over 6 1/2 hours.

By March, I was definitely recovered from CIM. That seems to be reflected in the 6 hour average. April, however, was an especially busy month, with three long runs. My sleep went up to 6 1/2 hours accordingly. Could it be the result of some fatigue accumulated in March and April doing five runs of a half marathon (13.1 miles) or longer?

In May through July, my average sleep dipped under 6 hours. This corresponds to the fact that I basically did no long runs (other than a few 10 mile runs at most). Over this period, I did fairly normal level of “base training,” that is, running to maintain my fitness without the high intensity of preparing for a race.

The average sleep amount starts to rise in August and September, when I did my first long runs for the Galloway marathon training. Of course it increased even more in October, when I ran my first marathon-distance run (as well as two 14 milers). So far, I’ve slept even more in November (though 12 days remain in the month), corresponding with doing my 27.5 miler two weeks ago.

Curiously, in September, with two 20+ milers, my sleep still averaged about a half an hour less. I wonder if my body was less tired than after the recent marathon-distance runs. This squares with my experience. It could also be the accumulated fatigue of all those runs.

Interesting stuff. Conclusion?

I enjoy sleep… especially after long runs!

Related posts