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Exercise Induced Insomnia? Yup, itís a thing

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Exercise Induced Insomnia? Yup, itís a thing

Old 03-01-24, 10:20 PM
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Exercise Induced Insomnia? Yup, itís a thing

This is the second time I have done this - obviously a slow learner. Did an intensive ZWIFT two hour workout (mostly tempo and threshold - with a few bumps into anaerobic) finishing at 7 PM after a cool-down.

Had dinner at 8:30 (no alcohol) and collapsed into bed at 10:30. Awakened wide awake in the wee hours, laid in bed for an hour and a half and finally got up and read/watched a movie until 4:30 - 5:00 AM, until I finally was able to sleep. While wide awake, ran a query on the interwebs, ďExercise induced insomniaĒ and yowza, several articles popped up discussing how intensive exercise can result in high levels of cortisol and norepinephrine (think adrenaline and its effects) which lasts for hours. The articles went on to state that strenuous prolonged exercise is best done before mid-day to keep those pesky sleep interrupters at bay. Here is one quick article which in a summary of several others: https://www.outsideonline.com/health...ause-insomnia/

Guaranteed I wonít be replicating this a third time.


Who else has experienced his wondrous phenomenon?
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Old 03-01-24, 11:08 PM
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Not too extreme, but if I'm active shortly before the typical bedtime hits, I'll toss & turn for a while. Resulting in minimal hours of rest.

I treat exercising similar to caffeine. Try to have a hard stop of the two a few hours before counting the sheep.
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Old 03-02-24, 12:02 AM
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Sorry, I fell asleep while reading this.

















j/k

Yes, it is a thing, but my insomnia base-line is so high anyway, I don't stay awake worrying about it.

Thanks. I'll be here all night.
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Old 03-02-24, 12:07 AM
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I too have had this phenomenon happen. Wish I could say I've learned my lesson enough to quit doing it. I need at least 4 to 5 hours to properly get down to sleep. Any more, if I'm not on the Zwift at or before 5pm, it's almost better to just skip the ride and try to get to bed at a normal time and just sleep instead of tossing and turning in insomniatic frustration.
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Old 03-02-24, 03:11 AM
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Not a phenomena, been known for a long time. I relate this to drinking a quart of water before going to bed, then wondering why you have to get up to urinate. I have dealt with insomnia for as long as I can remember. I have found, at times, the best I can do is to slow my respiration rate, relax all muscle groups, and get into a meditative type state of deep relaxation. It does not put me to sleep, but it does give some mental and physical rest.
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Old 03-02-24, 03:29 AM
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It being known for a long time does not exclude it from being a phenomenon.

mindfulness, like I think youíre describing there, has me asleep very quickly usually.

I get this after every ZRL race on a Tuesday evening. Ours have been at 1950 start times. Very difficult to get to sleep.
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Old 03-02-24, 05:25 AM
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It’s happened to me after long high exertion days. I’ll fall asleep quickly but wake up and stay awake.
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Old 03-02-24, 05:44 AM
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I often get this after a long, hard ride during the day or an intense Zwift session late evening. So I try to avoid the latter.
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Old 03-02-24, 08:02 AM
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For me, it depends on what type of load it is putting on the body. High cardio effort/lower on the muscles means no insomnia. Lower cardio effort, but more load on the muscles means I'm tossing and turning all night. In cycling terms, high spinning 30-60 minutes/lower resistance with the heart rate up - sleep like a log laying on the ground. That same 30-60 minutes grinding with heavy resistance at a lower cadence - can't get comfortable in the bed. Rolling like a log going down a river.

There's also Restless Legs Syndrome. Be thankful if you don't have it.
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Old 03-02-24, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat

There's also Restless Legs Syndrome. Be thankful if you don't have it.
I get that occasionally too and it is really frustrating. Thankfully havenít had it for a while and donít know what triggers it.
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Old 03-02-24, 09:06 AM
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on High load weeks, I will get restless legs at night which makes it impossible to sleep. If I get a good foam roll session in that usually helps, unfortunately I almost always forget to do that until it too late.
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Old 03-02-24, 09:25 AM
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I do my daily run early in the morning and cycle perhaps early afternoon. It is best to avoid vigorous exercise in the evening.
Also, I take melatonin before bed.
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Old 03-02-24, 09:58 AM
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When I tour, I almost always stay up much later than I do at home, even after a hard day of riding, setting up camp and cooking dinner. The next day Iíll get up pretty early (regularly by 5) and usually not feel all that tired.
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Old 03-02-24, 12:05 PM
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I will get insomnia often after a long and hard ride, too.

If I can't get to sleep, I'll get up and take a single acetaminophen (Tylenol) tablet with some milk. I don't know why, but that works.
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Old 03-02-24, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
I will get insomnia often after a long and hard ride, too.

If I can't get to sleep, I'll get up and take a single acetaminophen (Tylenol) tablet with some milk. I don't know why, but that works.
Sounds a lot better than my old solution, drink a tumbler of red wine. Yours is far more healthy and productive - wonder if oat Ďmilkí would work?
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Old 03-02-24, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
Sounds a lot better than my old solution, drink a tumbler of red wine. Yours is far more healthy and productive - wonder if oat Ďmilkí would work?
I don't see why not. My "milk" is actually "soy beverage". I hope the Milk Advisory Board doesn't come after me. They can be mean.
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Old 03-02-24, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
I don't see why not. My "milk" is actually "soy beverage". I hope the Milk Advisory Board doesn't come after me. They can be mean.
we actually used to have a ďmilk marketing boardĒ. I think it was a governement funded thing. I have no idea why they thought this was needed. Too many people lax in their milk consumption or something.
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Old 03-03-24, 05:39 AM
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I started listening to the Huberman Lab podcast a little while ago and the first 4 episodes are dedicated to the science of sleep. Heís a Professor of Neuroscience at Stanford and the topics are pretty fascinating.

Itís worth a listen, especially if you have trouble sleeping. One of the best things you can do is to go outside in the AM when the sun is at a low angle and just take in natural light for 10-15 minutes (actually outside, not by a window or car windshield) and do the same at night when the sun sets.
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Old 03-03-24, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by phrantic09

Itís worth a listen, especially if you have trouble sleeping. One of the best things you can do is to go outside in the AM when the sun is at a low angle and just take in natural light for 10-15 minutes (actually outside, not by a window or car windshield) and do the same at night when the sun sets.
Sounds good for establishing a sleep pattern, but I doubt it would help for this specific issue.
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Old 03-03-24, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Sounds good for establishing a sleep pattern, but I doubt it would help for this specific issue.
He talks in one of the episodes about the impact of exercise on sleep and how to manage it. Honestly I didnít pay attention to the pieces about late day exercise as much because Iím an early riser/rider.
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Old 03-03-24, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by phrantic09
He talks in one of the episodes about the impact of exercise on sleep and how to manage it. Honestly I didnít pay attention to the pieces about late day exercise as much because Iím an early riser/rider.
Yeah, that sounds more useful for this scenario.

Basically I found that I have trouble sleeping if I go to bed carrying a high level of fatigue, from say a really tough day in the saddle. Itís kind of counter-intuitive. Also vigorous exercise close to bedtime makes it harder for me to fall asleep even if fatigue is relatively low. I need a good couple of hours to settle down. Iím okay going on the trainer in the evening as long as itís not too late.
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Old 03-03-24, 12:01 PM
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I find that if I have a long, moderately paced day riding, I sleep well.

However, yesterday I did it to myself again, but surprisingly my hard workout was from 2-3PM (not 5-7 PM) to try avoid the issue. I wasn’t awake for hours but was awake just about every hour, ruining my deep/REM sleep. My ZWIFT session consisted of self imposed intervals, - Makuri downtown - doing the sprint segments 10X, at max effort and then going back to endurance in between. By the time I reached the final segment, there was nothing, so bagged it.

Appears had workouts will now need to be moved to the AM hours to try to get hormone levels back to stasis.
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Old 03-03-24, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
I find that if I have a long, moderately paced day riding, I sleep well.

However, yesterday I did it to myself again, but surprisingly my hard workout was from 2-3PM (not 5-7 PM) to try avoid the issue. I wasnít awake for hours but was awake just about every hour, ruining my deep/REM sleep. My ZWIFT session consisted of self imposed intervals, - Makuri downtown - doing the sprint segments 10X, at max effort and then going back to endurance in between. By the time I reached the final segment, there was nothing, so bagged it.

Appears had workouts will now need to be moved to the AM hours to try to get hormone levels back to stasis.
I'd consider keeping the 2-3PM intense workout time, but before dinner & after dinner pick up something to read/study that doesn't involve a screen/monitor nor gives out an audible readout.
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Old 03-03-24, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul
I'd consider keeping the 2-3PM intense workout time, but before dinner & after dinner pick up something to read/study that doesn't involve a screen/monitor nor gives out an audible readout.
Guess I could get out my old Business Law text - that should do the trick.
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Old 03-04-24, 12:14 AM
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It's not so much timing of the ride for me, but how much training fatigue I'm going to bed with. The caveat to this is, I do like at least having a couple of hours of "unwind" time before bed...if that gets cut short, I do have a harder time falling asleep.

A very difficult ride/race will screw up my sleep regardless of what time that event was. I'll fall asleep easily, but often wake up at 3:30 in the morning and can't get back to sleep. Doing intervals, or racing a shorter XC race that day, don't really have the duration that's required to screw up my sleep. However, if it's a max-effort for a few hours sort of ride, that's what screws up my sleep.

There is a point at the extreme end of the difficulty level, that I won't have insomnia issues...but these rides are a level of difficulty akin to riding a fast pace in mountainous centuries in hot weather. In those cases, my sleep metrics will look bad, i.e. elevated HR and suppressed HRV, but I can just pass out for 8+ hours after one of those.
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