9 Ways to Ensure a Decent Night of Sleep Before a runDisney Race

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The alarm goes off. It’s a dizzying 2:30am.

It takes a second or two, but once the fog clears you remember you’re in Walt Disney World, staying at a WDW resort and you’re about to do a runDisney race!!!

You are super pumped (even if you’re a little tired). You’ve logged your miles, you’ve fueled properly, you’ve gotten an adequate amount of rest and you’re ready to run!!

Well, maybe the second to last one isn’t true. Especially the night before the big race. Let’s face it: you’re in Disney, you’re probably vacationing with family or meeting up with some running friends and you’ve probably been trying to take in as much of the ‘World’ as possible. You’re a tad tired, but you’ve got the daunting task of running 13.1, 26.2 or maybe even a combined 48.6 miles ahead of you. What are you going to do?

1. Decent Night of Sleep Two Nights Out:

First, and foremost, make sure you get a really good night of sleep two nights before your big race. This means no late night dance parties over at Disney Springs or seeing how many times you can sneak in Splash Mountain before the Magic Kingdom closes up for the night. Instead plan to get to bed an a decent time to ensure you’ll get enough sleep.

This way, if you don’t have the best night right before the race, you have at least some sleep in your sleep bank (This is a real thing, right?). Adrenaline and excitement will carry you the rest of the way. If you know the two nights out you’re going to be traveling or having a hard time making it to bed at a decent hour, try to focus on getting good nights of sleep every night the week before your race.

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You’ve already have to be early to rise, you might as well be wise about it! Plan on a super early bed time both two nights out and the night before the race. Almost an exaggerated one, like 7:30pm. When you factor in the fact that you have to be up at 2:30am, 7:30pm doesn’t seem too crazy. The sleep may take a while to come, but at least you’re telling your body to get into relaxation mode and to conserve energy.

Spend your day lounging by the pool (in the shade of course, so you don’t drain yourself!) so you can help your body chill out, instead of park hoping. A pool always makes me feel like I’m on vacation, so I won’t feel like I’m missing a day of fun. Try as hard as you can to pull yourself away from the major excitement of WDW, you’ll be thankful you did come race morning.


I know you want to get the most of your vacation, but this is one day you should make into a down day. Even if you take it easy and only plan to go to the park for a few hours, you’re bound to be on your feet for a majority of the time or end up getting sucked into the lure of the mouse and staying until the fireworks show late at night.Save yourself the trouble and just plan to sleep in, grab a filling late lunch/early dinner at your resort or Disney Springs and call it an early night. I’ve tried it both ways: going to the park all day before a race and relaxing before the big event. I’ll let you guess which one resulted in a happier race day for me.

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We use this for both of my kiddos for everyday use as it is so helpful in blocking out unwanted noises and distractions during nap and nighttime. This is key when you are trying to get in a good night of rest. It helps create an isolated environment in your room. Most of the moderate and deluxe resorts tend to have a little better sound proofing in the rooms, but the extra noise really helps to drown out people outside your door and late night activities like fireworks. Regardless if you are at a value resort, moderate or a deluxe resort, white noise can be priceless!


Most of the curtains at the Walt Disney World resorts do an excellent job of blocking the light from outside. However, a little light might sneak in from the sides or there might be a spot where you can’t get the curtains to close completely. Considering this is Florida and it seems to be sunny all the time, light is usually trying to sneak in through.

Carrying a solid black sheet or piece of fabric can help to seal those light leaks. We thank both our boys for learning this little trick. When they were infants even the smallest sliver of light would keep them up. Be sure to pack some painting tape, or something that will be kind to the walls in your resort room, to tack the sheet up if you can’t find a way to tuck it into the existing curtains.


Speaking of kids… Many race runners are competing in a runDisney race while simultaneously taking a trip with their families. This means there are often 3 or more people sharing a room with you and several of them might be little ones. Kids definitely make it a challenge to have an early bedtime, because let’s face it, someone always needs one more sip of water or a tissue. Or has to go to the bathroom one more time. Or needs one more snuggle. You get the picture, the excuses are never-ending.

To fix that sticky situation, opt to rent a Disney Deluxe Resort villa to give yourself more room and flexibility. Disney has one, two and three bedroom options allowing  your family to stretch out. Price tag on the villas giving you a little sticker shock?  Consider renting out DVC points. One perk of knowing your race date so far in advance is being able to keep your eyes peeled for renting a vacation villa. By renting vacation club points from a DVC member you’ll be able to score larger accommodations and save a good deal of money. If all the non-race goers want to stay up and party the night away, you can give yourself some R and R in a separate room of the villa. This way the non-racers can also take care of the kiddos!


7. PREP:

Lay out everything you need for the race the night before. Include every single thing. Practice walking through your race morning so there are no surprises and you leave nothing to chance come race morning. An ideal setup for myself includes having my pre-race fuel in addition to my race gear and post race change of clothes. I’ll even go as far as to separate my socks and put them in my individual shoes (if I’m really on top of things). It’s 2:30 in the morning, I have very limited brain power, so it’s the little things that definitely help.

The less items I need to gather and running around I need to do in the morning the better, even it seems a little silly to separate my socks.  This can translate into less stress, a few more minutes of precious sleep or even getting over to the bus stop and arriving at the start earlier. Want to make it even easier on yourself? Here is a PDF for your race day RunDisney Race Day Checklist

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Have you ever set your alarm, hopped into bed and then about ten minutes later wondered if you set the alarm correctly? Did you set it for 5 am or was that 5 pm? I do this all the time before big events. One trick I have tried to help keep my mind calm is to set two alarms. That way I know one of them has to be correct and incase I hit snooze on the first one, the second one will get me up.

If you’re staying with someone else who has a phone, set their alarm too. You can even set the room alarm! Just make sure the time on the clock is correct first. Bonus: Want Mickey or Stitch to wake you up? Perhaps Goofy? Call on down for a wake-up call and on of your favorite Disney friends might be waking you in the morning. Oh boy! Just be careful because the resort phone is loud and is bound to wake everyone in the room up!


Now that you’ve got yourself setup for a decent night sleep and a smooth morning, it’s time to chill. Read a book about something inspiration to think about during the race, visualize yourself dominating and having the time of your life or just flip on the tube. This is Walt Disney World after all, there are most likely a few Disney related show or movies on tv.

Or, my personal favorite, throw on the Disney Parks channel and watch a few clips from ‘Must Do Disney’. Don’t know what I’m talking about? It’s basically clips of all the cool things to do at the parks. It’s like watching the Disney Parks planning DVD while in your resort room. My husband calls it Disney propaganda, which is most definitely is, and I love it!

Okay, time to stop reading and get to bed! Remember, you’ve put in the hard work and the race is just your victory lap. Enjoy!
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