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> Runners and trouble with sleeping – causes and solutions

Runners and trouble with sleeping – causes and solutions

Publish date 20.02.2024

You can read it in 8 minut

Runners and trouble with sleeping – causes and solutions

Sleep is a key component for the body to recover. Especially for runners, it is important because it affects their performance, muscle recovery ability, and overall health. Unfortunately, many athletes experience sleep problems, which can negatively affect their training and performance.

What could be the causes of sleep problems when it comes to runners? Why do you find it so difficult to fall asleep, even if you’re already tired after training and daily chores? Read on and see for yourself where the problem may lie.

Trouble with sleeping – what we will discuss?

In this article you will learn about some of the causes of the sleep problem. What are they?

  • trouble with coverage, 
  • evening training,
  • overtraining,
  • intensive, hard and long training, 
  • diet, 
  • magnesium level, 
  • coffeine. 

Trouble with coverage – night running 

If you’re a runner who prefers to train in the evenings, your sleep problem may be due to the time of your run. 

“But why? I’m coming back to the apartment tired!”

You may feel tired, but through training and movement your nervous system is stimulated and thus you can’t fall asleep even for several hours. Surely you have experienced that you turned from side to side and kept checking your phone to see what time it was, and sleep still did not come. 

As I mentioned earlier, this is related to the nervous system, or more precisely, the hormones that are released during training. If you go for a workout just a few hours before going to bed, you may not fall asleep – even though you are physically and mentally exhausted.

What hormone is most responsible for sleep deprivation? Cortisol, or the stress hormone. Normally, cortisol levels decrease towards evening – bath, rest, relax, and your body prepares to fall asleep. However, if you run shortly before going to bed, you’re giving a sign to your body that you need more cortisol to supposedly challenge yourself and finish your workout with another success. High cortisol levels keep you awake for a long time. Even if you do manage to fall asleep, you may wake up frequently during the night. 

What other hormones cause you to have trouble going to sleep? Endorphins, or the happiness hormone. A lot of them are produced when you do any kind of sport. It is thanks to endorphins that you have energy and feel that you can do even more. A good mood is important, but you shouldn’t “improve” it before going to bed. This can end up with a lack of sleep, and getting up in the morning in a bad mood.

Evening training and trouble sleeping – how to change that?

The first option, which could help you, may not appeal to you. Why? You need to change the time of your workouts. Don’t start in the evening, a few hours before you go to bed. At the latest, go for your workout in the late afternoon or first thing in the morning. I know it’s hard to get up in the morning and everyone wants to sleep that hour longer. However, by getting up earlier, you’ll have a workout done, more energy, and a positive mood for the day. 

“What if I only have time to train in the evenings? Should I give up and stop running?”

Of course not! If you can’t change the time of your training, there are some solutions for that too. First of all, when you return from an intense workout, try to relax and unwind

Everyone has their ways to relax. For example, you can listen to calm music, do yoga, and prepare a hot bath. Unfortunately, even such relaxation may not help you with falling asleep. 

Another option is lighter workouts. Choose a light jog or a shorter distance run. Leave intense workouts or intervals for another time.

Trouble with sleeping and time of running
Start your day with a BANG. Go for a run first thing in the morning.

Do you train hard and a lot? This could be the cause of your sleeping problems

If you can’t get a good night’s sleep, the reason may be that your body is overstressed and overtrained. Yes, the fact that you are overtrained can result in sleep problems. 

The nervous system is to blame for all of this. When it is overloaded, it produces a lot of cortisol, which prevents you from falling asleep or waking up constantly. In addition, during the day many other stressful and tiring situations also put additional stress on the nervous system. 

That’s why you should carefully monitor your training changes. This means that you need to adjust your running changes – longer distance, intervals, more intense plan – slowly and gradually. All this so that your body is not overloaded, especially your nervous system.

How to deal with overtraining?

There is only one solution to this problem, which will REALLY surprise you. To cope with overtraining… you simply need to rest. Only rest and proper recovery will allow you to get back into shape and relieve the stress on your nervous system. Give up some training or instead of a long run, do a short jog.

Food and sleep problems

I’m sure you’ve heard “don’t eat at night” many times. It’s not only not properly composed meals and late consumption that can cause sleep problems. 

What should you avoid in your evening meal? 

  • simple sugars – raise blood glucose levels and stimulate the body.
  • a large amount of fats – stimulates the digestive system. Digestion makes the whole body do the hard work, so it can lead to sleep problems. 

When and what to eat for dinner? 

You should eat dinner at the latest 2 hours before going to bed. Remember what I wrote earlier – avoid simple sugars and fats. 

After training, small meals that contain complex sugars and protein will be best. As the last meal of the day, you can eat: 

  • millet groats with tuna, 
  • whole wheat bread sandwich with tuna and tomato 
  • whole wheat pasta with zucchini, bell peppers and chicken.

When and what to eat for supper? 

It is best to eat at the latest 2 hours before going to bed. If you want to eat something later, choose a tiny snack. You certainly don’t want to go to bed with a burly stomach. 

What’s the best thing to eat for supper? 

  • Wholemeal pasta with shrimp, 
  • oatmeal with protein nutrients, 
  • buckwheat groats with chicken breast, 
  • whole wheat bread sandwich with tomato.
Trouble with sleeping and runner's diet
Make menu for the whole week and eat a balanced meals.

Waking up at night – how does magnesium affect sleep? 

You lose a lot of ingredients while running. You certainly knew that, but did you know that it is also magnesium? Therefore, until you replenish it, you can’t count on a good night’s sleep. 

“But why, what’s the connection between magnesium and sleep?”

Well, a big one. Magnesium is directly linked to melatonin. Without it, the production of this hormone deteriorates – especially after extremely grueling workouts, when you’ve sweated a lot. 

That’s why it’s so important to hydrate throughout the day – regularly, and not just when you feel an acute thirst. At night, however, I forgot lots of drinks and replaced them with supplements. Also, choose good dinner foods – those that are high in manganese and make up for some of the deficiency of this substance in the body. Choose fish, cocoa, and whole grains.

Caffeine – a very common cause of sleep problem

Tough morning? A grueling workout followed by work and other responsibilities? Many people, to improve their mood and add energy, choose coffee. No wonder, since caffeine gives you energy. Morning coffee is a good idea, but it’s worse in the afternoon. 

You can probably guess why. Caffeine can make it difficult to fall asleep even 6 hours after consumption. That’s why you should avoid coffee and other drinks that contain a lot of it, so you can fall asleep peacefully at night and enjoy a good night’s sleep. 

Where else is caffeine besides coffee? See what where else is caffeine: 

  • tea, 
  • dark chocolates, 
  • cola, 
  • candy enriched with caffeine, 
  • some yogurts and coffee desserts. 

“I have no problem sleeping after drinking coffee late at night”

That’s good, but is your sleep really good? Even if you get a good night’s sleep, the rest won’t be of good quality. You’ll probably wake up during the night and then have trouble falling asleep again. 

Remember that many products on the market are enriched with caffeine or guarana, which contains caffeine. Therefore, it is important to read the label before consuming certain substances. This will help you become well acquainted with the composition of the product. In this case, let it go and eat or drink it only the next day.

Trouble with sleeping – other reasons “why”

Can’t get to sleep? Believe me, it’s a common problem and you’re not the only one struggling with it. There can really be a myriad of reasons. Why else can’t you get a full night’s sleep or stay awake and curl up in bed for several hours? 

  • bad habits before bed – a very intense workout right before bed, a huge portion of caloric food, listening to stimulating music or watching a fascinating TV series, smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol 
  • stress – this is a very common cause of sleep deprivation. A flurry of thoughts, constantly preoccupied and thinking about what’s to come. 
  • disruption of the diurnal cycle – shift work, naps in the afternoon, going to bed late, and getting up very early. 
  • poor conditions in the bedroom – uncomfortable bedding, high temperatures, and a stuffy atmosphere. 

Physical and mental illness can also be a problem, so you can’t ignore the problem of not sleeping. If you have tried everything, and you still can’t get up in the morning, make an appointment with your doctor. Consult your problems with him.

As you can see there are really many reasons why you can’t sleep at night. If you are doing any of these things then you may have already found the cause of your fatigue in the morning. Eat properly, don’t exercise intensely before bedtime itself, limit caffeine, and remember to take the right supplementation. Take care of your body and get adequate rest.

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