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Question
Posted by: swim_jim | 2004/02/18

sleeping problems after training

hi, i do swimming training 2 to 3 times a week after work (approx 6pm). normally i swim between 30 and 40 lengths at a moderate rate. i would expect that this should leave me tired and i should sleep well in the evening, but normally it is the opposite. i find it very difficult to sleep on my training days. i usually lie tossing and turning for ages before i get to sleep, and then i don't sleep well. what is going on?

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Our expert says:
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hi Jim

Often, trouble sleeping is caused by overtraining - however, in your case, it doesn't sound as though the training you are doing is that strenuous that you would be overtraining - especially considering that your intensity is 'moderate' and you are not swimming every day. What I would be interested to know is whether this problem sleeping is only on your swimming days. The reason I ask is that it may be that you are swimming at 6pm, in a session that lasts probably an hour in total, and this means that you may be trying to sleep within 2 or 3 hours of finishing a relatively tough exercise session. Exercise causes a series of hormonal and neural changes, all of which are designed to 'activate' the body, and all of which are slightly longer lasting than just the exercise session - your metabolic rate, for example is elevated for up to 3 or 4 hours after training, and sleep while these responses are still active is impossible. Therefore, the problem may be that you are exercising too close to your bedtime, simply put. Of course, there are other explanations - it may be work stress, and insomnia is a really difficult problem to 'weed out', because the causes are so numerous. If you do find that you really struggle to sleep even if you can make some subtle changes to your training, then perhaps seeing a sleep specialist might be the best thing to do.

Good luck

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