3 reasons you’re not sleeping after a tough workout

·1-min read
Photo credit: B2M Productions
Photo credit: B2M Productions

Chemicals

Running releases all manner of wonderful chemicals into the bloodstream, including serotonin, the “happiness hormone”. But it also releases cortisol, a stress hormone that can interfere with sleep. During exercise – especially hard sessions – cortisol is released by the adrenal cortex. This has the benefit of preserving carbohydrate stores, but it also activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, increasing arousal – handy for tough sessions, problematic for sleep.

What to do about it: tuck in! Don’t skimp on fuelling, especially during tough training blocks, and be sure to replenish glycogen stores before hitting the hay.


Body temperature

Sleep onset is linked with a decrease in core body temperature of about two degrees that begins about two hours prior to bedtime. Interference with this normal circadian process – for example, through doing a tough interval session – means that deep sleep suffers. Because exercise can raise body temperature by several degrees, the normal night-time drop is counteracted, leading to more difficulty falling and staying asleep.

What to do about it: use fans, air conditioners and cool compresses to decrease you core temperature.

Caffeine

Caffeine’s performance-enhancing properties are well known. But before you drink an espresso before an evening or afternoon workout, consider the sleep-affecting consequences. Research has shown that caffeine consumption even as much as six hours prior to bedtime can cause disruptions.

Cure: have a caffeine cut-off time, ideally at least six hours before you intend on falling asleep. So if you’re hoping to be asleep by 10pm, drink your final tea or coffee by 4pm.


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