Caution: Sleep Deprived Runner

After ten consecutive nights of poor sleep I'm not so much running on empty as almost incapable of coherent thought. Can I summon the concentration to put one foot down quickly and simultaneously bring its partner through from behind? I'm a bit worried about tripping over or kicking myself. Both of which I seem to do on a fairly regular basis even when well-rested.

Should we run if sleep deprived? 


Tired canine athlete after a few miles on the beach.

Tired canine athlete after a few miles on the beach.

  • Exercise aids sleep - people who exercise have better quality sleep, spending a higher proportion of their bed hours in replenishing slow wave sleep.
  • Exercise improves mood and interrupts negative thought patterns - good if your sleep problems are stress induced.


  • Sleep deprivation diminishes reaction rates and impedes co-ordination. This means you are more likely to get injured.
  • During sleep growth hormone  promotes muscle repair while the immune system fights infection and clears up damage. With too little sleep the body does not recover effectively from training and is more susceptible to infectious and non-infectious assault.

There's a bunch of science behind the bullet points and someday I might explain it properly. However, not today. Is the risk of injury out-weighed by the benefits? When muscle pain keeps us awake maybe the decision is easy - let the muscle recover. The hard call is when we're being kept awake by a mixture of brain buzzing (when the mind refuses to stop working through all the day's problems) and leg burning (inflammation after vigorous training). The time of day we exercise, what we eat, when we eat, when we switch off our communication devices, whether we've had many factors can affect our sleeping patterns and thereby our physical and mental performance. Actually, research suggests it's the mental aspect of performance that is most affected. When you feel tired you feel pain more keenly making you less likely to push yourself. Even tired you can push hard for short bursts, but sustaining the effort against the pain and tiredness is the difficult bit. 

I'm seriously tempted to try having a nap. Night night z z z z z z.

Find out more at: