According to US News & World Report, sleep is essential in a runner’s training plan and can help improve performance.

Runners who decide to enter a race (regardless of the distance) typically create training regimens that include detailed information about the mileage and pace for each run. They plan proper nutrition to fuel a run. But sleep doesn’t always factor into their training plan, although it should be a critical component.

So why is sleep so important to a training plan? In a nutshell, it helps you make the most of your months of hard work and allows you to compete in tip-top shape.

Many people (including myself!) begin running for weight loss, because routinely getting a solid night’s sleep every night can only work to increase your calorie burn. Sleep deprivation throws off our appetite-signaling hormones. When we don’t get enough sleep, we have an increase in ghrelin (the hormone that says “eat more!”) and a decrease in leptin (which tells us “stop eating!”). As a result of this hormonal imbalance, we eat more, because we have too much of a signal that we’re hungry and not enough to tell us to stop. Good sleep allows us to keep these hunger signals in check, thereby enhancing our ability to stick with a diet. And when you mix a good night’s sleep with exercise, you have a greater chance of losing weight and keeping it off. As an added bonus, less weight equals faster running!