Everything works fine, until those pre-sleep MetCons prevents you to calm down, make you feel tired, but still excited, and disrupt a well-deserved good night sleep
Research on disrupted sleep after an exercise, published in European Journal of Applied Physiology suggests, that pre-sleep workouts lead to a certain levels of physiological excitement which keep us awake for a little longer. Study focused on active young men, observed a delay in sleep onset, and an increase in heart rate and core body temperature.
Late evening MetCons
Many athletes report pre-sleep MetCons keep them feeling exhausted, but very much awake and excited. The reason behind the difficulty initiating sleep was supposed to be a high arousal effect those workouts can cause. Keep in mind that when returning home after a vigorous workout your body goes into an anabolic state and starts with the recovery process. In that time the glycogen supplies are being restored and the muscle tissues are being repaired. These processes have a higher energy demand, and therefore increase the activation of your nervous system, which stays active for a few hours after the workout, depending on the intensity and volume of the exercise.
Boosters can make a problem worse
One of the most common causes for a disrupted sleep onset is also the consumption of caffeine-containing beverages. Energy supplements or stimulants usually contain a certain dose of caffeine, which helps waking you up after a hard day at the office, but the effect follows you home. If you’re having problems with sleep, put boosters aside. Cut down on your training intensity instead and focus first on establishing a stable biorhythm again.
Other very common causes for disrupted sleep are:
- Stress, personal issues, worries, anxiety
- Sleep disorders and other health issues
- Any kind of pain (chronic pain)
- Alcohol and drugs
- Screen time: watching TV or being on computer too long
How much sleep do we actually need?
Sleep needs vary; depend on our lifestyle and age. A quick research through different studies will show you there`s no magic number. It’s all about individual needs. I will always be an advocate for 8 hours: 11 pm – 7 am. It’s what keeps my biorhythm stable and my recovery after workouts effective. Although in general, guidelines from National Sleep Foundation suggest adults should get between 7-8 hours.
Can supplementation with melatonin help?
Melatonin is a hormone naturally found in the human body. Synthetic melatonin is a supplement some people take to help fight the jet lag, insomnia and establish a better sleep pattern. My personal experience with it was a no-go as the effect was totally opposite: sleepy during the day, awake through the night. While some people report positive effects, others complain about side effects.
What’s the solution?
In my opinion sleeping pills should always be the last solution to try. First find the cause of your sleeping issues. Remember it’s not just about the sleep, it’s your whole lifestyle.
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If MetCons and workouts are the reason, try to finish with training 3-4 hours before you’re headed to bed. Take time to cool down: do some stretching poses, focus on breathing and relaxing tension in your muscles. Get a good post workout meal, but don’t stuff yourself. Look for a comfortable satiety. If you worry about the recovery start with shakes right after training.
- Establish a regular rhythm based on your lifestyle and stick to it – sleep hygiene.
- Turn off or remove all mobile or computer devices from your bedroom.
- Try with a short meditation before going to sleep and after waking up in the morning.
- Make sure your bedroom gets dark: good curtains needed!
So what are your quick better-sleep solutions?
Oda S, Shirakawa K., Sleep onset is disrupted following pre-sleep exercise that causes large physiological excitement at bedtime, European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2014