Why Can’t I Sleep After Cycling? 3 Big Causes And 6 Solutions

Why Can’t I Sleep After Cycling - 3 Big Causes And 6 Solutions

Why can’t I sleep after cycling? Is it because you are exercising the wrong way? Find your answer in this post and discover the truth behind your insomnia.

Introduction

If you have trouble sleeping post-cycling, you are not alone. Many have asked, “why can’t I sleep after cycling” as they experience insomnia whenever practicing the sport.

Occasional difficulties in sleeping can be attributed to several factors like bad weather, illness, exhaustion, etc. But when you repeatedly find it hard to fall asleep after biking even in perfect health, you may be exercising wrong.

It’s time to look into how the activity affects your body and discover the actual causes of your sleepless nights.

Why Can’t I Sleep After Cycling - Why Can’t I Sleep After Cycling_

Why Can’t I Sleep After Cycling?

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Why Can’t I Sleep After Cycling?

Reasons For Post-Cycling Insomnia

Hormones

Cortisol

Exercising promotes the release of cortisol, a hormone triggered by stress. It can be a problem when you train too hard.

Naturally, the amount of cortisol in your body peaks about 30 minutes after you wake up. Consequently, the cortisol level is low by the time you go to bed at night.

When you cycle shortly before bedtime or further before bedtime but with a greater magnitude of effort, it can cause your cortisol level to go up significantly and make it harder for you to sleep.

Adrenaline

Exercising in general and cycling, in particular, are exciting activities. That causes adrenaline levels to rise in your body.

Adrenaline raises your heart rate, pushes more blood to your muscles, increases muscle strength, alertness, and sugar metabolism. A higher level of this hormone boosts your performance but makes it hard for you to doze off, too.

Norepinephrine

Norepinephrine is a hormone similar to adrenaline, released during exciting activities like cycling. With a larger amount of this hormone, you can cycle longer and more intensely.

However, unlike adrenaline, norepinephrine doesn’t fall back to the usual level right after you cycle. Instead, it’s believed to remain elevated for as long as 48 hours. It may be another reason why you can’t sleep after this physical activity.

Stimulants

Another possible answer to the question of “Why can’t I sleep after exercising?” is stimulants.

You may be tempted to take in stimulants like caffeine before cycling. It makes you feel alerted and ready for vigorous workouts.

While some people can sleep fine after this, people who have low caffeine content may not fall asleep as easily. If you are the latter, pay attention to how much stimulant you’re consuming as it may be the cause of your post-cycling insomnia.

Dehydration And Core Body Temperature

As soon as you finish cycling, you will feel thirsty and hot most of the time. It indicates that your body is dehydrated while your core temperature reaches a higher level after the exercise.

As long as your body temperature remains high, you will have trouble sleeping. Besides, certain levels of dehydration can last for up to 5 hours or more and contribute to an elevated heart rate.

Together, these factors can keep you wide awake as you lie in bed at night.

Why Can’t I Sleep After Cycling - How effects from riding prevent you from sleeping_

How effects from riding prevent you from sleeping

Is Cycling Before Bed Bad?

Now that you’ve got the answer to your question, “Why can’t I sleep after cycling?” you may be thinking cycling is not a physical activity to do before bed. Many people feel this way, too, but it’s just a myth.

According to a 2020 study conducted on a small sample, doing aerobic exercise had no effects on sleep. Notably, the workout in their experiment ended 90 minutes before bedtime.

Another study in 2019 shows that moderate-intensity evening workouts can improve sleep quality. There are some types of exercises that make you sleep better, including cycling.

So, riding a bike before bed is not bad, like many may think. Instead, cycling at light- or moderate-intensity and finishing at least 1-1.5 hours before bedtime is beneficial for your sleep.

Why Can’t I Sleep After Cycling - Biking before bed is not necessarily bad.

Biking before bed is not necessarily bad.

How Should I Sleep After Cycling?

Timing

Timing plays a vital role in determining whether or not sleeping comes easy for you after cycling. Complete your exercise at least 90 minutes before bed, or ideally 2-3 hours.

Cooldown

Driving down your core temperature to a normal temperature will help you fall asleep faster after your evening workout. To do this, you can flush your legs and take a cool shower after riding.

Cut Down On Stimulants

Avoid drinking coffee and caffeine-rich beverages before cycling. If you have to, try to consume a small amount only.

Stay Away From Social Media

The blue light from the phone screen suppresses the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. So, put down your phone 30 minutes before going to bed.

Also, turn off all the lights in your bedroom. This creates a completely dark environment, signaling your brain that it’s bedtime, which helps you fall asleep better.

Have A Recovery Snack

Have a light, healthy snack if you are hungry after cycling. You won’t be able to sleep with an empty stomach. Some milk, oatmeal, or corn flakes are good choices.

Cool Sleeping Environment

Apart from reducing the core temperature, cooling down your bedroom will also promote deep sleep. The best room temperature for bedtime is between 60 and 70 degrees F.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Over Exercise Cause Insomnia?

No, it can’t. In fact, exercise can enhance quality sleep.

However, the key to a good night’s sleep after exercising is timing. It means how long it is from the moment you finish your workout to your bedtime.

We recommend you stop such activities about 2 or 3 hours before your bedtime. This way, your body temperature has enough time to dip, your heart rate and your hormone levels can go back to normal.

Will I Gain Weight If I Sleep After Exercise?

No, you won’t. In fact, a good night’s sleep helps produce more tissue-repairing hormones, boosting muscle recovery.

Lack of sleep, on the contrary, can result in weight gain as your body is prompted to take in more energy to keep you awake. As a result, you tend to eat more; and we all know what happens after that, actual weight gain.

How Can I Fall Asleep In 10 Seconds?

The following methods will bring you to restful sleep significantly fast.

The Military Method

  1. Relax your face completely, even your mouth.
  2. Relax your shoulders and rest your hands on the sides of your body.
  3. Relax your entire body, including chest, thighs, legs, and calves.
  4. Think of a relaxing scene. At this step, you should fall asleep in 10 seconds.

4-7-8 Method

  1. Slightly part your lips, exhale with your mouth, and make a whooshing sound.
  2. Close your lips and inhale with your nose while counting from 1 to 4 in your head.
  3. Hold your breath and count to 7.
  4. Repeat step 1, exhale in 8 seconds.
  5. Try to keep your mind clear in all these steps.
  6. Each cycle has 4 full breaths.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

  1. Raise your eyebrows for 5 seconds.
  2. Immediately relax your forehead muscles and wait for 10 seconds.
  3. Smile as wide as possible and hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Pause for 10 seconds.
  5. Squint as your eyes shut for 5 seconds, then relax.
  6. Slightly tilt your head and hold for 5 seconds. Relax.
  7. Pause for 10 seconds.
  8. Repeat the same process for the rest of your body.
  9. Fall asleep as soon as you feel relaxed.

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Wrapping Up

Now, when you wonder, “why can’t I sleep after cycling?” you should look at 2 factors to figure out the causes: intensity and timing. How intense are your rides? How close do you finish them before sleep time? Do you have enough time to cool down and doze off?

With the right timing and the proper intensity, cycling will indeed help you sleep better rather than causing sleepless nights. Next time you take your bike on a ride, especially in the late afternoon, remember to go home 2 or 3 hours before your bedtime.

Ridge Davis

Ridgid Fitness represents the synthesis of Ridge Davis's career experiences in fitness and sports.

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