The Sleep Episode! Perplexing Questions Answered

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This episode is dedicated to helping you get better sleep!

We bring on a Harvard-trained sleep expert to explain how to improve the quality of your sleep as a runner, share research and answer perplexing questions from the MTA community.

Q and A with Emily Breslow

Emily Breslow manages all aspects of Data Science and Physiology Research at WHOOP. Prior to joining WHOOP as the first employee, she worked at the Analytical and Modeling Unit of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s hospital studying jetlag. Emily is also a gymnast and runner.

Here is a short excerpt of our conversation. As you can see, Emily is wicked smart . . . and has a nice view of downtown Boston.

Questions Covered in This Episode . . .

Big thanks to the many Academy Members for sending in their sleep questions.

  1. If you have trouble sleeping would running in the morning be better for better quality sleep than running after work? -Nick
  2. My issue with sleep is falling asleep. My work schedule and life is so wonky…some days I get home at 4pm, some days at 11pm and everything in between. My life isn’t consistent so I find I can’t get up and go to bed at the same time every day. It’s nearly impossible for me to establish a “regular” schedule. Any tips for getting good sleep when your life/schedule is complete inconsistent and unpredictable? -Persephone
  3. I sometimes use Melatonin when I have trouble falling asleep. I’ve often wondered about taking it the night before a race? Any possible side effects or evidence it could hinder performance? -Tracy
  4. I know it’s recommended to get 8 hours of sleep for a myriad of reasons. But aren’t some of us wired differently? I’m at a point where I get 6.5-7 hours each night, perhaps another hour on Sunday morning. Are there long-term issues with compounded sleep deficiency? -Henry
  5. I’ve read different opinions on whether you should sleep in on weekends to catch up or if you should wake up at the same time every day. What’s better and why? -Emily
  6. What’s the perfect nap amount? I had heard either short 20 mins or full 90
Mins so full sleep cycle. -Allison
  7. If you sleep badly, should you still get up and run/train, both for training’s sake and to hopefully sleep better? Or would you be better served to skip your run? Oh also! What’s a good way to get out of a bad sleeping rut, as in a couple days where you just can’t fall asleep? If you can’t tell… I’m a bad sleeper. -Whitney
  8. I work only night shifts as a nurse and have some sleep difficulties on my free days. I might wake up in the middle of the night and be awake up to four hours. How can I get back to sleep easier? -Hanna-Leena

Also Mentioned In This Episode

Whoop -A scientifically grounded system designed to help athletes get the best out of their bodies and optimize performance. Athletes overtrain, under train, misinterpret fitness peaks and often don’t really understand the importance of sleep and recovery. Visit to learn more and use code MTA for $50 off of your purchase.

Sun Basket -makes it easy to cook delicious seasonal, nutritious meals in your own kitchen—in just 30 minutes or less. Get organic, non-GMO ingredients from the best farms and fishermen, sent directly to your door! You can choose from Paleo, Gluten-Free, and Vegetarian options, created by an award-winning chef and approved by nutritionists. Use our link and the first three meals are free.

Nobody sleeps better than our cat Murf. Although he chooses some strange places to do it in!

3 Responses to The Sleep Episode! Perplexing Questions Answered

  1. Katie Rogow March 23, 2017 at 8:48 am #

    Hello fellow runners! Thanks, Angie and Trevor, for dedicating a podcast to sleep. I’m writing because I seldom hear sleep experts mention sleep-disordered breathing as a potential cause of poor sleep. OSA is a form of sleep-disordered breathing. I was one of those people who thought only overweight, middle-aged, inactive men who snored loud enough to wake the dead developed OSA. Wrong! I am a petite, slender, life-long runner, 50 years old, happen to snore, and I have a small face and mouth. Those of you who are LCHF athletes will appreciate that though I consistently restrict starches and sweets, and run halfs throughout the year, my blood sugar measured in pre-diabetic ranges. Hunh? I went for several years waking up feeling barely rested. I was seldom sleepy during the day, but chronically dragged my bum and many morning workouts didn’t happen because of exhaustion. A sleep study diagnosed OSA in November 2016 and at last I began CPAP therapy in December 2016. I’m on a mission to bring more attention to this because I practiced good sleep hygiene and it didn’t help. OSA closed my airway 6 or 7 times an hour (I have a mild case) and all the sleep hygiene, melatonin and other pills can’t fix it; it’s a mechanical problem. Fellow runners, if you make every effort to get to bed on time, practice good sleep hygiene and still wake up feeling barely rested, please ask your doctor for a sleep study. I’m proof runners aren’t immune to this condition. It is a whole new world now that I’m getting CPAP therapy and achieving 7-9 hours of QUALITY sleep every night. OSA is a serious health issue and I can’t emphasize how important it is to either rule it out or get it diagnosed and treated. Learn more at the Mayo Clinic website. Thanks for reading this post.

    • Trevor Spencer March 25, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Katie! I hope the right person sees this comment so they can learn from your experience.

  2. Patti Montenegro May 5, 2017 at 7:22 pm #

    Very interesting podcast…oh who am I kidding, all your podcasts are so great! I’ve tracked my sleep with my Garmin and my norm alarmed me. Always 3:35-4:00 deep and 4:37-5:37 light. Is it known how much deep sleep is needed in the minimum? I’m not an ultra runner nor do I have crazy crazy workouts. I’m very active and work out or run almost everyday. I’m 57 and don’t know what it was prior to menopause.

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