Reader To Reader: Help Me Sleep!

Why do some of us find it so hard to drop off after an evening run? Give us your answer!

Posted: 5 October 2006
by Jane Hoskyn

This week, one RW member wants YOUR advice on how to get to sleep after an evening run...

"I have to do my weekday and some weekend runs in the evening (7-8 o'clock-ish). The nights after my runs I don't sleep very well. I've stopped using recovery drinks because I thought they were keeping me awake, but it's not made much difference. I think it's to do with endorphins, but I'm not sure what to do about it. Any advice, folks?"highy

Send us your answers and experiences by email, including your RW member name or add them to the forum thread. Next week, we'll round up the best responses.

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training misc, sleep

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I have to do my weekday and some weekend runs in the evening (7-8ish)
The nights after my runs I don't get to sleep very well, I've stopped using a recovery drink 'cos I thought it was keeping me awake, but it's not made much difference. Think it's to do with endorphins but I'm not sure what to do about it.
Any advice folks?
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 13:51

Watch telly all night.
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 14:08

you should know by now not to ask silly questions,

nothing much you can do about it really unless you change the time you run
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 14:14

I think it can be due to your body temperature being too high. If you try having a cool shower after your run, rather than a hot one, that might help.

Posted: 03/10/2006 at 14:24

I often run up to 10pm at night.

I don't have any problem getting to sleep:o)

Posted: 03/10/2006 at 14:27

I suffer teribly from this problem. Every Tues night after a track session, I get to sleep and wake up at 1.30-2.00pm and am awake til 4.30 - I always go back to sleep around then. Now I get up when I wake up at 1.30 cos otherwise I know I'll just lie there wide awake so I might as well get up. The same thing happens every night of a race even tho' it might have been a 10.00am start - I can never sleep without a 2-3 hour gap in the middle. I've tried herbal sleeeping tablets but they dont work. It doesnt happen after a steady run, just after hard sessions or races.
I honestly cant remember a day when this hasnt happened - yet otherwise I sleep normally for 8 hours a night.
I dont want to do sessions in the morning because i cant with work and besides I enjoy training hard with others - cant do the same on my own.
Is this just adrenalin or is there any other scientific reason? It is so annoying cos I feel so spaced out on mondays and Wednesdays and am usually asleep at 9.00 on these nights!
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 14:48

FAS, I'm not even getting to sleep, jus lying there wide awake 'till 3 or 4am. Like you I notice it more after the hard sessions/midweek races, although it always happens to some degree if I run/bike in the evenings, not noticed it happening after morning sessions though.
If i'm running/biking 3 or 4 times a week in the evening, after a couple of weeks i'm shattered.

Free Radical, What's the secret then?
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 20:06

I use Nocte and have started with paracetomol or Ibuprofen (400mg) if I've done a long run and can still feel it in my legs.

If it's really bad then a Nytol tablet does the job.
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 21:11

I am with JJ on this try running early mornings and see if that makes a difference.

Posted: 03/10/2006 at 21:13

legs having a mind of there own,there a medical term for this.i usually knock back a few bottles of magners after a long run,works for me.
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 21:26

Mmmmmmm, Magners. tried it for the frst time at the weekend, luvverly! But hardly a good start to the GNR weekened!!!
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 21:33

I'll often train in the 10pm-11pm slot, have a shower, catch up on the forum and hit the sack at midnight. After a week or two the fatigue sets in and getting to sleep isn't a problem. My difficulty is that I don't have enough of it, and have a tiredness dip after lunch, or at 3pm.

I think that you have to force yourself into a routine.

If I'm still a bit "live" when I go to bed I read a boring book (not a novel) until the eyes have had enough. That does it. TV does not do it for me. I enter a state of transfixed stupor, which is almost asleep but only half the value.
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 21:35

back from tracke session of 16x 400s - & having had tea will go to bed with a book - I dont ahve a problem with leg soreness or anything -so no good taking ibuprofen- so will see if anything should change tonight- I darent take nytol - I think I'd rather feel spaced out from lack of sleep rather than spaced out from nytol!
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 21:56

See- I wonder if this is psychosymatic - it cant be a pattern because it diesnt happen other nights! Oh dear & I have to work tomorow eve so I'll feel lousy!
Posted: 04/10/2006 at 03:57

I struggle sleeping 'til I run. Up at 3am this AM and off for run in a mo. Then I can sleep. Don't know which predicament is worse:o-
Posted: 04/10/2006 at 04:36

I always toil the night after a run, even if I have done it midday.

You accept it as being normal and work your way around it.
Posted: 04/10/2006 at 04:49

I don't get enough sleep, long working day, so when I do hit the sack its usually 5 mins and I'm gone
Posted: 04/10/2006 at 07:45

Have to fit runs in the evenings, the early mornings are no good. Don't like taking ibruprofen much (does nasty things to the stomach), and don't fancy nytol either. Like FAS I only have this problem on the days that I've been running.
I've heard mixed messages about the Nocte - any thoughts?
Posted: 04/10/2006 at 13:56

Do you eat before or after your run? When i trained for FLM i used to run about the same time and then would have my tea and then couldn't sleep. When i changed the order of things (i.e. tea at 5 over my desk then run at 7 8 ish) i slept better. But i also reduced my milage and intensity and that helped too.
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 11:28

run harder - then you'll be knackered!
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 11:47

I have the same problem. Even after a 5k run at about 7.30pm I find that although I feel tired enough to sleep the brain is wide awake.

Not sure what the answer is.

Posted: 06/10/2006 at 12:09

My sleeplessness isn't all run related but can add a few tips maybe. Ideally your run shouldn't be less than 2 hours before kip as you should be in run down mode to sleep. Can you try having a cooler room, window open maybe.

I've been trying the last week a herbal remedy called Valerina and so far I've slept through till morning and as its herbal no effects in the morning either.

Posted: 06/10/2006 at 12:36

I have a problem that I cant sleep the night before a race
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 12:45

Isn't that nerves or adrenalin KevinW?
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 12:45

I can't suggest anything for post-exercise sleeplessness as nothing worked for me except changing my routine and doing exercise at least 5 or 6 hours before bed time. For pre-race sleeplessness which for me I think is anxiety related, I've found lavender oil works a treat. One or two drops on a pillow is usually enough.
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 12:52

deepest sympathies to highy and other fellow sufferers...

I have the same problem(s). A simple case of sod's law for me. The more I need or want to sleep (wether it be the night before a race, or following a hard/rewarding session - eg last night..) the greater the likelihood of sleep deprivation. Lots of occasions when I've been awake all night as a consequence

I've tried all the usual remedies that one is quoted, some being repeated in this thread - but to no effect. I don't believe there are any quick fixes. I've just had to accept that this, like tendonitis or my inability to run up hills !

I think flexible sleep patterns are for some of us just a fact of life - not worrying about and accepting our bodies ability to 'catch-up' if given half the chance, a partial if imperfect answer ?


Health Warning : Never ever share a tent with such a person on a weekend mountain marathon if (i) things are going well following day 1 and (ii) you are trying to get some much needed shut eye in preparation for day 2...

Posted: 06/10/2006 at 13:31

For what its worth...

Try not eating tea after a hard session late at night, take all your calorific requirement on-board during the day and then only have fluids and a recovery snack between the session and sleep.

Only a suggestion but at least then your body isn't trying to process a stomachs worth of food as your trying to sleep.
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 13:49

Try reading the 'POSE method of running' thread, if that doesn't work you are incurable.
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 13:55

I often find I can't sleep after a lateish run so here is what I do - have an after run soya hot chocolate with a big dash of benedictine, green chartreuse or scotch whiskey. Nice treat and within 15 mins I'm dead to the world.
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 13:56

I find a glass of red wine does the trick, though camomile tea can be good too. Take a warm bath with a few drops of lavender oil, then off to a freshly made bed. Talking books are great to nod off to, so try that. And, according to feng shui, plants with large leaves (like my swiss cheese plant)promote good sleep.

If all that fails, I'll put you in touch with my ex - I couldn't stay awake for five minutes with him ;-)
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 14:38

I suffer sleep difficulties all the time-usually because I can't switch off my head. The night before my first marathon I had zero sleep and can't quite believe I was able to run!

I have tried many different remedies-with varying success- but I always sprinkle lavender oil on my pillow or burn it (if you can cope with the weird old lady type smell).

I also occasionally take herbal sleeping tablets which sometimes work-valerina as suggested by cinders is ok although they stink! Another good tip is ear plugs and a sleep mask.

If like me it's because you're thinking about too much stuff try writing it all down-it sometimes helps with accepting that there is nothing you can do about any of it then and there.

I agree with Yanner about the not eating to much too-if you're really hungry before bed a bannana is supposed to be best as it has sleep inducing chemical which I can't for the life of me remember the name of!
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 15:12

I find just the same problem, after a hard run I feel tired but buzzing, my mind won't switch off and I can't sleep. I guess it may be down to adrenaline and maybe also a consequence of the body mending itself after being pushed hard.
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 17:58

count sheep
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 18:07

If only that really worked!
Posted: 06/10/2006 at 18:18

I can really associate with your problems. I train about 15 hours a week nearly all in the evenings. I have suffered insomnia, and noticed it affect my performance. I think someone has already mentioned not eating after exercise and I really think they are on the right track.

You have to eat after exercise, or your muscle will not build and your recovery will be longer. However if you do your digestion systems will warm you up and keep you awake. Normal society doesn't like irregular eating times.

I suggest you eat a good healthy lunch at 12pm lots of fruit and liquid. then at about 4pm have some carbohydrates. Brown bread sandwich or pasta salad. Go out and run hard, sort you kit out for the next day, make lunch, chat to your mates or do a crossword. If your a workaholic like me check your e-mails, do some research. Just something to engage brain. Quell those endorphins. DONT EAT, but do drink a non sugar drink. Herbal or Earl grey is my fave bedtime drink.

Bed before 12.

Have a good breakfast to feed muscle. fruit, muesli yoghurt, honey all mixed up in a big bowl. Maybe a grapefruit and poached eggs. Yum Yum.

Posted: 06/10/2006 at 21:47

if ounting sheep doesn't work try counting blue wombats.

posting at 4.20am says it all. i'm an early bird but that means i'm done for by 8pm.

i suffer too. after hard long race i just feel restless. and the night before like a lot of people.

so long as i rest it doesn't seem to affect my performance only how grumpy i can get later on in the day
Posted: 07/10/2006 at 04:23

Hi There

My advice is to try a few of the suggestions given - especially about eating before a run and cooling down afterwards - for a few weeks. If these don't work then you'll have to make the choice of accepting less sleep or less running.

Both could have the same effect on your overall performance.

Good Luck.
Posted: 07/10/2006 at 09:12

I`ve had to agree with my body never to run after 4pm if I want to sleep that night.I think it`s something to do with cooling down and hydration. If I were to do a long run at 8pm I`d literally wake every few minutes at night hot and thirsty. Also I never get a good night`s sleep before a race that matters to me but it`s important to realise that it doesn`t affect your performance so don`t worry. I read somewhere that the sleep you get two nights before a race is what matters. Actually after a lifetime of sports I never got to grips with sleeping before any big sporting event despite knowing all the theories of what I should be doing.Now I just regard it as part of who I am.
Posted: 07/10/2006 at 17:14

I don't think this is quite the same, because I don't often run in the evenings, but too tired is not good for sleeping. But maybe it would be useful.

I think I notice sleeping is hard when a run has been long enough to notice cardiac drift while running. The evening I will feel really tired, expect to sleep well, perhaps even fall asleep for an hour or so but wake up, not exactly hurting but unable to settle or even lie still.

Milk and paracetamol with codeine usually does the trick. Paracetamol is easier on the tum than ibuprofen, for example. For muscles that go solid or painful overnight, the rheumatology consultant suggested low dose of amitriptylene. It seems to work.

I think if you are even just a little bit uncomfortable sleep is not easy.

Don't know whether any of this will help you all.
Posted: 07/10/2006 at 18:18

Here's what works for me

- avoid all sources of caffeine from the moment you wake up - that means no coffee obviously, no tea (including green tea and early grey) except if it's naturally caffeine free like Redbush or a herb or fruit tea. Note even "decaffinated" coffee and tea have caffeine in them so that's a no. No to chocolate too.

- avoid all alcohol. Although alcohol may seem to relax you and knock you out for sleep - it does have well documented disruptive events on sleep patterns.

The above may seem drastic but they're certainly what I need to do to get a good night's kip.

Other advice already mentioned in the thread is to keep your room temperature cool and in the 2 hours before bed avoid too much mental stimulation. Read a book, watch TV or listen to some relaxing music.

Good luck!
Posted: 07/10/2006 at 19:48

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