How to sleep well after a hard training session

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We received the following question for #AskALP on twitter:

“@ellacyclingtips Pls help me sleep better after I ride in your #weeklywisdom column! What can I do to stop waking up in the night?”

This is a good question. While a lot of us use exercise to improve our sleep, for many of us, after a hard training ride, it can be tough to get a good night’s sleep.

Here are some tips to help ensure a better night sleep after a hard bike ride.

Timing

Aim to do your workout earlier in the day. This is because when you finish a workout, the body takes a long time to calm down. Endorphins and other chemicals have been released to make you more alert and energetic. Your body is also slow to fully cool down and calm down after exercise, and until this happens, you will be fighting an uphill battle when trying to relax and sleep. In fact, exercise can cause your core temperature to be increased for four or five hours after working out.

Caffeine

As cyclists, we all like coffee and caffeine. In fact, caffeine can be a performance enhancer and help us to ride harder, longer. However, caffeine late in the day can be a sleep inhibitor. Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as 8 hrs, so aim to have your caffeine intake finished by 2 p.m. This includes recovery drinks! Many recovery drinks add caffeine or ingredients that contain caffeine, so make sure you read the label.

Electronic Devices

The blue light of electronic devices (TV’s, computers, phones, iPads, etc) prevent the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with nighttime. Instead of watching TV or looking at a computer before bed, read a book or magazine to relax.

Aches and Pains

Your body may be sore after a hard workout and your legs may ache. Wearing compression socks, foam rolling, stretching, etc, after a workout is recommended. However, you may still go to bed with aching legs. In this case, I recommend taking Ibuprofen. There are many theories on Ibuprofen, both good and bad, but my thought is if you aren’t sleeping due to aching legs, then you are not recovering. So it’s better to get rid of the aches and pains so you can sleep and recover.

Hydration

Hydration play a huge role in performance and recovery. Drinking enough water throughout the day, especially around exercise, can help regulate the sleep cycle. Dehydration can also lead to melatonin deficiency, which disturbs the sleep cycle.

 

If all else fails, try taking a melatonin 30 minutes before bed time. I also like Valerian root and tart cherry juice (tip from Dr. Stacy Sims!).

Sleep well!

 


#Askalp

Your questions for Alison or any of the other ALP Cyles coaches don’t need to be limited to the topic at hand. Ask them anything! Post your question in the comments below or send it to us on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtags #weeklywisdom or #askalp.


ALP Cycles Coaching alpcycleslogo - edited is a Boulder-based coaching company with three female coaches at the helm: Alison Powers, Jennifer Sharp and Patricia Schwager.

Each coach brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. Roading racing, track, endurance mountain biking, time trialling, making the leap to living and racing in Europe – they’ve got you covered. Find out more about Alison Powers and her Alp Cycles coaching company at here.

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