Sleep

Commuting takes up a good amount of my day – approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes for a round trip. I usually wake up at 5:15 AM, leave the house a little past 6:15 AM to beat the morning rush hour traffic. Work ends at 5:00 PM. To get to my training venues in Quezon City, I have to travel a good 2 hours from Makati, the central business district.

One of the main challenges of juggling a non-athletics career with track & field aspirations is getting a full night’s sleep. With such a schedule, my weeknight training sessions are limited to approximately 2 hours. Even with such a cap, I hardly get the minimum 7 hours of shut-eye. If I train too long, I’d lose valuable sleeping time.

I must admit that I was quite reckless when I was younger. I lasted through four years of high school with an average of 4 hours of sleep per weekday. My sleeping habits improved in college, in light of the more flexible schedule. But still, I couldn’t avoid burning the midnight oil. As a student-athlete, my academic responsibilities held more weight than my dreams of athletics glory.

During the nascent days of my track & field comeback, I read a startling article about an Indian telecoms executive who died of heart failure. He led an active lifestyle, regularly taking part in marathons and following a strict physical fitness routine. But he only slept for an average of 4 hours a day – something we have in common!

Read about Ranjan Das here

Read more about sleep deprivation here

There and then, I’ve made a resolution to sleep better. I’ve dramatically cut back on unnecessary nights-out. I became more conscious of my schedule as I dusted off my sprinting spikes and wore those oh-so-comfy track kits.

A year after I came back to my sprint hurdling ways, I can say that I’ve improved considerably, increasing my average sleep time during the workweek to about 6 hours a day. At the times when I’m sleep-deprived, I make it a point NOT to train, to save my body from further damage. At the expense of my bloated sense of pride, I am now listening to the whispers of my body.

I am still a long way from my goals in life. I know for a fact that sleeping adequately is more than just baby steps.

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