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Question
Posted by: Russell | 2010-12-18

Insomnia after an ultra marathon

Hi Ross,

I find that after the Two Oceans, I struggle with insomnia for a few days. I sleep very badly and seem to spend most of the night lying uncomfortably awake. Is there something I can take for this?

Sleeping tablets are the obvious answer, but I was wondering if there is something that will address the cause rather than the symptoms. Is the body deficient in something that is preventing sleep after an endurance event?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Russell

It's actually not uncommon - a lot of people experience it even after really hard training days. I'm not sure why it happens - I'd speculate that it's related to the hormonal and neural changes that happen during exercise, and then persist for hours, even days afterwards. Much like you can get muscle damage that lasts for 3 to 4 days, the effects of a particularly hard bout of exercise do last long. And 56 km is a tough run. So my guess is that inflammation, plus neural activity are probably changed after the race, and that's what keeps you awake.

So sleeping tablets are the obvious answer, though obviously you don't want to rely on them. Anti-inflammatories, if the theory is correct, would help, but that too is treating the symptom and not the cause. So unfortunately, there's probably nothing you can do to prevent it, only manage it if it does happen.

Good luck

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1
Our users say:
Posted by: fitnessdoc | 2010-12-21

Hi Russell

It's actually not uncommon - a lot of people experience it even after really hard training days. I'm not sure why it happens - I'd speculate that it's related to the hormonal and neural changes that happen during exercise, and then persist for hours, even days afterwards. Much like you can get muscle damage that lasts for 3 to 4 days, the effects of a particularly hard bout of exercise do last long. And 56 km is a tough run. So my guess is that inflammation, plus neural activity are probably changed after the race, and that's what keeps you awake.

So sleeping tablets are the obvious answer, though obviously you don't want to rely on them. Anti-inflammatories, if the theory is correct, would help, but that too is treating the symptom and not the cause. So unfortunately, there's probably nothing you can do to prevent it, only manage it if it does happen.

Good luck

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