Post workout sleeping disorder
February 18, 2008 1:50 PM   Subscribe

After heading for the gym, I only manage to get a few hours of sleep.

After the gym, I don't have any problems falling asleep, but I wake up for seemingly no reason after 4-5 hours of sleep. And I need about 7.5 hours of sleep. After waking up, I'm not tired enough to fall back asleep again for about two hours, but I get really tired later in the day.

I started going to the gym over a month ago. I go there in the evening after work twice a week. I run for 15 minutes and do weight training for 50 minutes. I go to bed 5 hours after returning from the gym.

Anybody experienced something similar, or has ideas how to prevent the post workout sleep disorder?
posted by Sharcho to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If working out energizes you, don't go in the evening.
posted by gjc at 1:51 PM on February 18, 2008

try working out in the morning.
posted by violetk at 1:53 PM on February 18, 2008

Response by poster: Working out in the morning is not possible unfortunately.
posted by Sharcho at 2:06 PM on February 18, 2008

I have the same thing. I can only do low-impact stuff in the evenings. I now run in the morning and swim at night.

Congrats on figuring out the cause of your insomnia, btw- it took me about a year plus a coworker telling me her husband had this problem after playing basketball in the evenings.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:18 PM on February 18, 2008

Maybe try something like yoga or tai chi for the last bit of your workout. Dont know if it will help, but cannot hurt.
posted by d4nj450n at 2:24 PM on February 18, 2008

Have you had this routine very long? I have had similar problems, but my body adjusts in time.

You could maybe try going to sleep earlier those nights? And if you still wake up after 4-5 hours, get up for a couple hours (read, get stuff done, etc) and then go back to sleep. Not ideal, but better than being tired.
posted by iguanapolitico at 2:34 PM on February 18, 2008

This used to happen to me after exercise in the evening, but not so much once I got a lot fitter. Unfortunately, if you are trying to improve your fitness level, you can't avoid exercising a level that triggers this.

I tried a lot of different things:
- chamomile tea
- kavakava
- 5HTP
- meditation
- nice hot shower

and nothing really worked, only getting the exercise earlier in the day. The only thing that helped a little was that I realised that I tended to overdo the rehydration afterwards, so much that I woke up needing to go to the toilet in the night. So maybe don't drink quite so much water before bed.

Also, if you don't have time to exercise during the day, can you squeeze in a power nap instead? 20 or 30 minutes shuteye in your afternoon low can work wonders.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:35 PM on February 18, 2008

Tylenol PM? kidding... :-)

Your body is going through an adjustment period. Homeostasis is always it's goal, i.e. it's fighting back to try to get to it's pre-work out lifestyle routine.

I say just give it some time, try the power naps, and see if your body eventually adjusts on it's own.

You didn't mention your alcohol consumption levels or caffeine intake, nor how soon you eat before you go to bed - all which could play factors in your sleep cycles.
posted by matty at 2:52 PM on February 18, 2008

Response by poster: matty, I've been doing it for about 5 week. I don't consume caffeine, and I usually don't consume any alcohol on days that I work out. I eat a normal meal (not to heavy) after taking a shower, i.e. about 3-4 hours before going to bed.
posted by Sharcho at 3:07 PM on February 18, 2008

Are you getting enough carbohydrates? If you're body is too carb depleted, you'll go into ketosis which can interrupt your sleep. There are lots of opinions on whether ketosis is a good way to lose fat. I'll sidestep that debate, because it's not relevant to your question. However, you could try adding a bit of additional carbohydrate to your diet to see if it's a factor in your sleeplessness.
posted by 26.2 at 3:15 PM on February 18, 2008

You don't eat for 3-4 hours, then go to sleep for up to 7.5 hours? Maybe not related to your problem, but if you're lifting with the intention of gaining lean body mass, you probably shouldn't go that long without eating anything. Eat a meal, preferably one high in protein, every 2-3 hours. Maybe drink a protein shake before going to sleep.

You might want to lift more than twice a week when you're still a beginner, unless you're training near to near-failure.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 3:36 PM on February 18, 2008

I really like this New York Times article about sleep, and it has some things in it that might apply to you. One of the things it says is that, "for many centuries, and perhaps back to Homer, Western society slept in two shifts. People went to sleep, got up in the middle of the night for an hour or so, and then went to sleep again." It doesn't say anything about exercise making this sleep pattern more likely, but the timing you're experiencing matches the pattern they describe fairly well. The article says that this pattern is still common in nonindustrialized countries, and that "waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep again, 'may simply be this traditional pattern, this normal pattern, reasserting itself,'...'It’s the seamless sleep that we aspire to that’s the anomaly, the creation of the modern world.'” I thought I also remembered another part that said that resting quietly when you awaken before you're ready to get up was found to be nearly as restorative as actual sleep, but on a quick re-skimming of the whole article just now, I didn't find that part. Still, if you're getting up, or lying there stressing about the fact that you're not asleep, you might try just resting quietly and calmly instead. The article has a lot more information and advice, and is an enlightening read for anyone who has sleeping problems, takes sleeping pills, etc.
posted by daisyace at 5:39 PM on February 18, 2008

You're overtraining.

Sleep disruption is a classic sign that you are overtraining, that you are pushing your body beyond its capacity for recovery.

Reduce the volume of exercise and then work up to the level you want over a period of several (like 4-6) weeks.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:26 PM on February 18, 2008

This is a common problem and the solution is working out in the morning. If you are trying to lose weight, this is the best way to do it anyway. The pounds fall off when you do this.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:46 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Suggest Saturday or Sunday morning for your weight training. Keep the weeknights for cardio. You could also, as jason's planet suggests, be overtraining because you only work out twice a week. Possibly take it to 4 nights 2 cardio 20 minutes, 2 weight nights of 25 minutes.
posted by ptm at 1:19 AM on February 19, 2008

I doubt you are overtraining if you are only working out twice a week?

Sharcho how old are you?
posted by tiburon at 6:17 AM on February 19, 2008

>> I doubt you are overtraining if you are only working out twice a week?

It's still easily possible to overdo it in a single session. One possibility is to divide up your workout more. Spread it out over three days instead of two, so that your body doesn't have to recover from as many things at once.

That can be really inefficient, time-wise, but maybe it's better overall, if you get your sleep.
posted by zeek321 at 3:18 PM on February 19, 2008

Response by poster: tiburón: I'm 28.
zeek321: It's not practical time-wise for me to divide it up more.

Although I'm training hard, I don't think I'm overtraining because otherwise there would be other symptoms.

I have a feeling that it will get better as I get fitter, but I hope that I won't have to suffer from it for too long. In the worst case that it doesn't get any better, I'll have to reduce the volume of weight training exercise on weekdays.

I'll try some of the diet adjustment ideas suggested above, and see if they help.
posted by Sharcho at 6:02 PM on February 19, 2008

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