New Goal: More Sleep

So far I’m really digging this little Tuesday.

It feels like fall. The weather in NYC is pretty much perfect.

In fact, it’s perfect running weather.

It seems fitting, then, that today I went for a run.

Oh, Reservoir, you're so pretty. You looked especially lovely this morning.

How much did I love this run?

So much.

The distance and speed, who cares about those things? Oh right, I usually do. But not today. Today was just about getting back on my feet after a little rest-recharge-do-some-yoga-and-ride-a-bike break. I ended up taking a total of six days off running, and it felt oh so right.

Truthfully, I was nervous about getting back out there today. I wanted to feel good, I didn’t want my foot to hurt and I didn’t want to Crohn’s my pants. That would suck. All of it.

But since I’m going on and on about how great this day is, I think it’s safe to give you the spoiler now: The run was good.


I ran 6.25 miles, and I wanted to run 26.2. My legs were all loosened up and stuff, and even though I promised I wouldn’t care about my pace, I was pretty excited that I settled comfortably into a pace I was pleased with.

My friend Gian-Who-Basically-Coaches-Meb-And-Teaches-Him-How-To-Go-To-The-Olympics gave me a lecture the other day. I had gone for a “recovery run” (my favorite kind, these days) and I sent him my splits.

Gian was pissed! He was like, “Ali, why are you sending me this shit? Me and my BFF Meb are not here to analyze your recovery run splits. You don’t look at your pace during recovery runs. You’re so stupid. Meb is mad. J/K he’s not mad anymore, he says what up. Oh, now Meb has to go. In the time he spent looking at your Garmin data, he could have run a half marathon, since that only takes him 11 minutes.”

At least that’s basically what happened.

But it was a good lesson. I usually keep an eye on my watch regardless of what type of run I’m doing, but recently I’ve learned to not do that quite so much. Slow run days are for running slowly. Some days “slow” is 9-minute miles. Other days “slow” will be 10:30 miles. It’s all personal and relative and my point is that I’m no longer such a slave to my watch. That’s a good thing.

I stuck to the Bridle Path and Reservoir today, and my stomach was not super psyched. It appears as though my insides far prefer biking over running. It’s gentler, you know? So I did have to make one bathroom stop early on. Whatever. I don’t care.

Sorry, stomach. Get used to it: It’s run time. (Not to be confused with “Gu time,” a joke which two people actually claimed to find funny yesterday. Thanks for the ego boost, you bunch of crazies.)

These were clean once. Thank you, Bridle Path, for making sure I never have shiny shoes.

Before I ran home, I did some incline push-ups and tricep dips on a bench so that I felt buff. I just thought you should know that. Then, at the end of my run, as I was basically skipping along East Drive, my BFF John appeared out of nowhere and ran next to me for a few minutes. That was fun.

And just like that, it’s a Good Mood Tuesday!


But but but.

I’m tired.

I got home, “stretched” (I call it stretching when really all it is is me bending over to untie my shoes while I’m in the elevator), showered, ate some breakfast and got myself out the door fairly quickly.

I boarded the subway, magically got a seat, took out my magazine and…

…passed out.

Not like, fainted. That would be almost as bad as the scary Crohnsing incident I feared earlier.

I mean I opened up my magazine, attempted to read it, and then thankfully woke up a few stops before the one where I get off.

Then I realized just how sleepy I was.

As I walked to work and rocked out to “Sister Christian,” I tried to think about my recent sleep habits.

This just in: They suck.

Probably the most beautiful photo of me ever taken. Thanks, Brian. You're the best.

Yeah, apparently I don’t sleep “the recommended amount.”

For a long time, I could function on five hours a night, no problem.

Now, I’m getting six hours most nights, and I don’t think that’s quite cutting it.

A few weeks ago, I got into one of my “Goals Goals Goals” (not “Bills Bills Bills,” I’m no Destiny’s Child) mindsets and wrote down a few things I wanted to improve in my life. They were the usual things: eat better, do planks every day, foam roll, stretch, be smart, don’t be stupid.

I’d say I’m mostly failing at a lot of those things (what is a plank?), but I’ll work on them.

And in the meantime, I’m adding another goal to my lofty list: Sleep more.

I don’t know how people get 7–8 hours of sleep each night.

Last night, I was up doing really important things, like making gourmet food…

If this food photo and recipe don't get me a book deal, I will be friggin' PISSED. Look at that plating! Those colors! The coffee table background!

…and being an artist.

Her name is Ali and she wears orange pants. When I went to New Hampshire this weekend, I found coloring books and colored pencils. I have a new hobby. Let me know if you want me to color you a picture and I'll do it. I'm not kidding. It's relaxing for me to stay inside the lines.

Eventually Brian came home, I “made him dinner” (let him have my leftover sprouts and washed some grapes), we watched the Olympic swimming and track trials coverage, and then eventually went to bed. I had trouble falling asleep for the first time in a while, and I woke up a lot throughout the night.

I can’t sleep well because I’m itchy. Whenever I go to New Hampshire, I get attacked by bugs, and I get these quarter-sized bug bites all over my body. It is both uncomfortable and extremely sexy.

I try to avoid the bugs…

We went to a BBQ on Saturday, and wanted to protect Tyler from the bugs. I wanted to be protected, too, so he let me in with him. I brought my drink. Tyler didn't mind.

…but they always find me.

So anyway.

I was up itching and scratching my ankles most of the night, and now I’m tired, but more importantly, I need to go to bed earlier since my wake-up time isn’t going to change.

This is the last time you’ll hear me say “I’m tired.” No one cares, remember?

Do you want to see another picture of Tyler? Oh, OK. Here:

SO HAPPY. Probably pooping.

To conclude:

  • I want to establish good sleep habits so I’m all rested during marathon training.
  • Tyler is still cute.
  • I should probably get a book deal for being a good food blogger. My recipes will include “scrambled eggs with vegetables” and “tap water.”

CAN YOU HELP ME? How much sleep do you get every night? Is it enough? And how do you get to bed at a reasonable hour? Basically I want you to give me a detailed outline of your sleep habits. Thanks.



58 Responses

  1. ^^^ What others have said.. make a sleep schedule. Make your sleep a priority. Do what your parents used to do as a kid and set a bedtime.
    I do this because I struggle with insomnia and with a seizure disorder, I have to get a good amount of sleep. I count back 8 hours from when I need to get up and add another hour on top of that because I KNOW I need an hour to fall asleep. So I put aside 9 hours to sleep each night.
    Also helps to know your “body clock” if you have the luxury. My best hours to sleep are midnight to 8 am. When I had to be at the office at 8 am, this didn’t work out so well. Now I have a different job and can be flexible with my hours.
    If you have the luxury not to be at your office at a certain hour in the morning, figure out what your natural sleep cycle is (without artificial constraints) and use that.

  2. Stop drinking caffeine.

    Now, if you’re a serious coffee or diet coke drinker, you may feel like I just bitch-slapped you. But I gave it up and feel like a million bucks. Although if you have Crohn’s then you probably avoid it anyway. Ignore me then

    Go to sleep and wake up at the same time.
    Turn the brightness down on your computer/phone after dark.
    Stretch and deep breathe for 5 minutes before bed.
    Have a kickass routine that you enjoy before bed
    Journal right when you get in bed. It gets all your thoughts out do you aren’t mulling over it while you try to fall asleep.

    Now sleep well and dominate.

    1. I don’t drink caffeine! My problem isn’t the actual sleep, my problem is finding enough hours in the day! Can you help with that?!

  3. I found your blog thanks to Fitness magazine – love it! I am a Health Coach, and one of the things I work with my clients on is a good night’s sleep – it is SUPER important to whole health. In fact, it’s so important that I talked about it on my blog almost all of January. Here is a post with some of my tips – feel free to check out the rest of the month for more:

  4. I’m not even sure what that food is that you cooked, but I want to eat it. yum.

    I have slowly given up most TV, and have been getting more sleep as a result. If I get enough exercise during a day, I’m exhausted enough to fall asleep early. Then I’ll wake up without an alarm 8 hours later. But if I’m hooked on a TV show, I’ll stay up much too late and struggle in the morning. It has felt good to break that cycle.

  5. Hi Ali!

    Just a suggestion from a regular reader 🙂
    I enjoy reading your posts and liked the fact that they came everyday at a fixed time. I don’t really dig the whole “I will post when I have something to write about” thing.. would love it if you could post on Mon, Wed, Fri only, for example. Makes your posts easier to anticipate 🙂

  6. I have to get 8.5 hours of sleep to feel rested. That doesn’t happen on weekdays, but I tend toward insomnia so I get into bed religiously at 11 and wake up at 715. A sports doctor once told me athletes need 9+ hours of sleep a night because their muscles need extra time to repair and grow, and because muscle memory doesn’t begin to develop until after the 8th hour. I also am a huge proponent of making up your sleep debt on the weekends and never setting an alarm!

  7. This post made me laugh. Which is a good thing considering the craziness of my day so far. I’m glad that you took a break and are now ready to hit the roads again. Also…omg 126 days until the marathon. I should probably start thinking about running more than 6 miles at a time. Hehe.

    <3 Tyler!!

  8. I do get a pretty good amount of sleep, but it took some practice to actually commit to it. I too was all about the 5 hours of sleep and functioned on the “I can sleep when I’m dead” motto. BUT life changed that, and particularly marathon training. My second training session, I considered sleeping an integral part of the whole package, along with pasta and foam rolling. It helped that lots of miles makes you super tired too, but I would suggest just thinking of sleeping as something that will ultimately make your running, work, life, etc. a lot more enjoyable.

  9. I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I go to bed NLT than 10, and get up at 5. Sometimes my husband thinks it’s time to talk at 10 and screws up my sleep patter, I get angry.

  10. Did you lose SOAPNet yet?! Mine (on RCN, also in the city) was replaced by a Disney channel!!!! I don’t know how I’m going to get my 90210 fix. I figured you could empathize…

  11. I’m such an old lady when it comes to sleep. One night of not-so-good sleep can throw me off for days! I usually sleep about 7-8 hours every night, and I WILL be that lame person who tells her friends she can’t stay out any later because she needs to get home & get a good night’s sleep 😛

  12. Hi Ali 🙂 for me, sleeping 7 1/2 -8 is perfect, if I sleep more than this I feel tired…I don’t always sleep that much, but 7 on average; I usually go to bed and read for a half an hour before sleeping, and I take “melatonin” which helps me a lot with falling asleep and sleeping through the night. It helped me get into a “sleep rhythm/pattern”too!

  13. I do typically get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. But I am the lightest sleeper ever so it is not quality sleep… which is why I need so much I think. Here’s my little trick to sleep. Just do it. Get in bed 7 hours before you have to get up. Sleep is like anything else. It takes dedication to get enough : )

  14. I would DIE with that little sleep. Seriously. I have to get 7 hours to feel normal. But that’s also why I can’t work out in the morning. It is so hard to go to bed early especially if Brian’s not on board (my husband stays up later). But sleep is so wonderful!! 🙂

  15. This has been on my mind lately, too! I am such a night owl by nature, but staying up until 1 or 2am is doing me no favors.

    So this sounds crazy to some, but I am a big believer in honoring the sleep cycle. For me, it isn’t so much how MUCH sleep you get, but whether you wake up in the middle of your REM cycle (bad) or at the end of a cycle. I feel like I must wake up in the middle of a cycle almost every day and end up feeling like a zombie.

    There are some apps that are supposed to help you with this, but I think they are mostly bogus. I have been playing with the website, which helps you calculate the right bed/wakeup time, but I haven’t had much success so far.

    Yesterday I heard that one of my heroes, Wendy Kopp (founder of Teach for America), goes to bed at 9pm and wake up at 3am every day. So she can be super-productive and go for a run/check email/have genius ideas long before anyone else is awake.

  16. this is a good goal! I try to get between 7-8 per night or else I feel like death. This means I am a gramma and go to bed super early. It makes me not very fun sometimes, but I’m over it. Glad to run in to you this morning!!

  17. I totally agree about the weather today! It was so amazing walking around NYC and not sweating the moment I stepped outside!
    As for sleep, I notice a HUGE difference when I get 8 hours so it’s a big motivator for me to get to bed on time. I have a little reminder set on my phone 30 minutes before my goal bed time. I don’t usually get up and go to bed immediately when the alarm goes off or anything like that but it does make me aware of what time it is and I try to at least get ready for bed and unplug a little at that point.

  18. Hi Ali!
    I try to get 7 1/2 hours of sleep a night and that basically means I go to bed when my 11 year old does. No more Deadwood or Game of Thrones after he goes to bed for us, we’re old and tired.
    ps. 11 minute half marathon. haha. I love it when you post about Meb.

  19. I like to aim for between 7-8hrs of sleep a night. I usually wake up every 1-3hrs so it’s definitely not solid sleep. Do people have solid sleep anyway?

    The sleeping pics of you are awesome.

  20. I do okay on 5 hours of sleep, but I need more after three consecutive days. I used to be able to get by on 4 hours a night, every weeknight. Basically, you get older or you do things like take up running and you need more sleep. 🙂

    You should get some Benadryl cream for your bug bites. They will stop being as itchy. You may be able to go the night without waking up to scratch them.

    1. I used to use Benadryl cream, but I’ve upgraded to the Cortizone stuff now. I’m addicted, which apparently is not good. Oops.

  21. I am always envious of people I know who can function on far less sleep than me *coughmyhusbandcough* and used to use that as an excuse for why I was never a morning runner. I need AT LEAST 7 hours of sleep and preferably 8 or 9 on the weekends for good measure. Now that I have switched it up to morning running I have to force myself to go to sleep early enough. I guess it’s more of just making it a priority the same way I make my running a priority. I just think “I have to go to sleep, or I won’t be able to run.” And not running is NOT an option!

  22. I am a SLEEPER! I loooovveee sleep. So yes, I get 8-10 hours a night. But then again, I am super active and all, so I crash by the time 9 or 10 rolls around! Just turn off the computer and walk into your room, foam roll and hit the hay!

  23. My answer is: Google Spreadsheets!!!


    I started a spreadsheet almost 2 years ago to start tracking my workouts, and I’ve never stopped. I was so consistent in working out and saw continued progress…but I couldn’t seem to improve my sleep patterns! And with all the working out and not enough sleep, I got sick more than I’d like.

    Finally I realized that I should add to the spreadsheet and track my hours of sleep. It has made a HUGE difference for me and now I usually get at least 7.5 a night, or I can see when I’m short of my goal for the week and need to make up some time.

  24. For me it’s an ongoing struggle to get enough sleep – I need 7-8 to feel good, but I’ll survive on 6 for a couple of days, and I never feel tired at night, so it’s hard. One thing that (sort of) works for me is to set an alarm … for bedtime. I set a 10 p.m. alarm, and when it goes off, it’s time to wrap up. It typically takes me close to an hour after that to finish what I’m doing and get to bed, which means I can get around seven hours of sleep. Another trick is to start getting ready for bed early in the evening – put on pj’s, wash your face, brush your teeth when you’re done eating – so going to bed doesn’t seem like such a daunting task.

  25. I can’t function without eight and a half hours of sleep. So it is a must for me to get this much sleep. Strangely enough, I never had problems falling asleep. I probably inherited this from my dad 🙂 My partner, however, struggles with falling asleep and not waking up hundred times at night (our snoring dog is partly responsible for this 🙂 ) He tried to drink some herbal sleep aids, but they didn’t help. They actually made it worse because they made him want to go to the toilet at night. The only thing that helped is exercise. After he started running the problem seems to be getting better.

  26. I love your coloring page. I recently bought a few coloring books “for my niece” and when she came over I colored like three pages and she got bored after half a picture. No shame here though. Something about coloring inside those lines IS relaxing. My boyfriend still won’t let me buy crayons for our apartment though..

  27. A few times you’ve mentioned you like to to abs before running, and I thought you might like

  28. Lucky for me, I’ve always slept well and seem to get enough sleep. (except for a few nights in college when I thought staying up til 3 and getting up for work or class by 6 was cool!) I don’t eat past 8 o’clock, and I’m bed between 9:30 and 10:00. I don’t have to set an alarm clock anymore and automatically get up between 5 and 5:30, and I’m always out the door before 6 to workout. It helps that I have an almost 2 year old who gets up early, so I try to get my workouts done before she gets up. Really….making sleep a priority will help, and STICK to it.

  29. I find that a sleep schedule helps. It’s so lame and makes me sound like an infant/toddler, but it’s true. I try to go to bed at around the same time every night, and I try to read my book for the 30 minutes leading up to bedtime (reading makes me sleepy, TV/internet makes me wired). Generally, it helps—and your body falls into a rhythm after a while!

  30. First off – I saw two folks at the 10K I ran this past weekend sharing the <3 of sweat (in turquoise). I shared the love today (in red? salmon? whatever the color was) in my first mid-week 10 mile run (vs. weekend "long" run) in my first week of MARATHON TRAINING!!! So EXCITED!!!

    Sleeping. I'm very bad at it. I end up turning out the lights usually 7 to 7 1/2 hours before my alarm is set to go off. I also don't sleep soundly – wake up in short periods frequently but luckily can fall back to sleep easily. I would blame it on my bad caffeine addiction but I've given up diet soda before and it really didn't change. So – no help here.

  31. I literally just had this conversation with the husband and we have vowed to go to bed earlier from now on.
    We usually get about 7 hours sleep (11pm – 6am) but the cat wakes us up (seriously) and sometimes the toddler. And we basically spend our evenings watching repeats of Grey’s Anatomy on the sofa so it’s not like it’s worthwhile activity. So we have vowed to go to bed at 9.30 and watch TV and then lights out at 10.15. The husband in particular is exhausted at the moment!!!
    But like Stacey said….weekend afternoon naps after a long run, they’re the best ever!!

  32. I try to get at least 7 a night but that isn’t always possible. I think I’m one of those people who require 8+ but there just isn’t enough time in the day! Sunday naps after a long run are my fav 🙂

  33. I get between 7 and 8 a night. I try and be in bed by 10 and will usually stay up and read for a little bit before I’m ready to really sleep. I guess for me it’s about routine…get home from work, eat dinner, work out, shower, a little bit of TV and sleep…it seems to work for now. Plus when I get less sleep my MS likes to go all wacky so I make sure to make sleep a priority.

  34. I need my 8 hours of sleep each night or I’m very unpleasant. However, I don’t have to be at my job til 11 or 12 (dog walking for the win). I usually wake up at 8, but if I stay out late the night before I can sleep in til 10 and still get my 8 hours.

  35. I’m a 7 to 8 hour sleeper Su-Th night… F-Sa I often get 8-11 hours… Sleep it the number one thing that I feel keeps my MS an bay well that and working out 🙂

  36. The BEST advice my mother ever gave me was that to make sleep a priority. I was definitely in the whole “I’ll sleep when I’m dead mentality” but she quickly changed that to “if you don’t sleep, you’ll BE dead.”

    Anyway, I try my hardest to get 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep a night. I also think it’s actually impossible to catch up on sleep so a consistent sleeping pattern is really important too.

    I bet mentally and physically you’d feel a million times better if you got 7.5 hours of sleep every night for an entire week. You’d probably run through the subway in the morning instead of passing out 🙂

  37. Normally I get a solid 7-8 hours every night but this past week and a half I’ve been in yoga teacher training and I’ve passed out hard at 9:30pm each night! So, I’ve been getting a solid 9 hours!

  38. I typically go to sleep around 10 or 10:30 and wake up at 6:30. I do NOT like going to bed any later. I’m usually home from work around 5:30-6:00 so I find that gives me lots of time to make dinner, clean up and then do whatever I need to that night. Oh, and it helps that I work for a fitness company so there are no qualms about me taking a class at the gym or going for a run on my lunch!

  39. I’m with you– I need 8 hours of sleep. I get about 5-6. I always have these great “I’m going to go to bed early tonight” plans, and that soon turns into “It’s OK that it’s 11pm, I’ll still feel great when that 5am alarm goes off”.

    PS I thought the “GU” joke was fantastic 🙂

  40. I get 7-8 hours a sleep during the school (work?) year. and more now that I am on summer vacation (more like 8-9). I am definitely less tired when I get 8+ hours. If I get 7 hours too many nights in a row–then I can definitely feel myself dragging.

    To help get to sleep quick.. no TV ever goes on in the bedroom while attempting to sleep. (In fact, I think the only time it goes on is when my fiance is getting ready for work..)

    I also take big, long, deep breaths.. and even sometimes sit in child’s pose in bed if I really can’t sleep.

  41. One of my best friends from college used to color when she got super stressed, too. Did you know you can order personalized coloring books stories (you star in your own story!)? I get about 7 hours when I don’t run in the morning, and 6 when I do. Neither option typically feels like enough (as a result I’ve wimped out on lots of morning runs…which has got to change…but thats a story for another day). But, I can typically squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep if I don’t have the TV on or engage in text/twitter/fb convos for about 30 minutes before. They call this “sleep hygeine”, but I think thats a weird term, so I just call it good habbits (that I’m not so good at keeping….)

  42. I’m with @Stacy L. I am always in bed by 10:30 (if not sooner) and always up by 6:30. I’ve got grandma sleep habits…but I get my 8 hours!

    It’s hard for me to function with less!

  43. I go to bed at 10pm almost every night I can which is most nights. Some nights I play indoor soccer and it doesn’t start until 11:30! I wake up between 5 and 6 and usually feel great! I must get at least 7 hours or else I will drink caffeine all day.

  44. My friends know me as the grandma of the group, not only because I’m 25 and wake up at 6am on the weekends but because I tend to be in bed by 9:30. Every day. To be honest, just like a lot of people will never be “morning exercisers,” some people will never be able to comprehend the idea of passing out before 10pm.

    That said, 10-10:30 is a reasonable time to go to sleep, and you can still get at least 7 hours that way, and that’s with waking up super early.

    Don’t you wish you could capture temperature in photos? Central Park was flawless this morning. Could have stayed there forever. But then I would not be able to pay my bills. Stupid details.

  45. I don’t know how you live on less than 7 hours a night. I am a ball of rage if I am struggling along on 5 or 6 hours. Literally, a ball of rage. My key is avoiding naps after work, and staying away from tv past 8. I usually am in bed by 10ish, and getting up around 6 gives me just enough sleep. ps. I had an amazing run too!! Central Park was seriously perfect this morning.

  46. I have to sleep a lot. I get between 7 and 8 a night, and I’m still tired. I wake up most mornings at around 6am-7am, and I get to bed between 11 and 11.30. I get home from work around 8pm each night, so 3 hours of eating, hanging with my husband, playing with the dog, walking the dog, showering, and suddenly it’s bed time. Not a cool person at all.

  47. Out of curiosity, I’ve been following the Shangri La Diet for a few days now. I had been tossing and turning in the nights for about a month now, but last night I slept for a full 7 hours straight. It’s a pretty fix if you keep waking up at night. Hope that helps or that you find something that works for you!

  48. I always try to reduce sleep. I just started working at a non college job and I feel so tired all the time even though I get a solid 7 to 8 hours by not doing anything other than working and sleeping.

    I want to try to wake up early and run in the morning.

  49. I probably sleep about 7 hours and I am constantly tired and unable to sleep any longer. I wake up on my own at 5:30 which pisses me off… so, yeah.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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