Why Do I Have Trouble Sleeping After Exercise?

sleep after exercise

All the textbooks say that exercise helps you to sleep better, but that’s not always the case. I can say this, hand on heart, because I speak from personal experience. 

After the past few years looking after the little people in my life, I’d got out of the habit of exercise. But seeing friend’s completing the local half marathon, whilst grudgingly feeling my age, convinced me that this was the time to do something about it. So off to the local leisure centre I went, and half an hour later, direct debit in place, I was perusing the aisles of the local Décathlon, stocking up on gym gear.

Poor sleep had been another reason too. Totally fed up with tossing and turning the night away, I thought exercise would help put my monkey mind to rest. Exercise, I was convinced, or more to the point, physically exhausting myself would be the answer. Surely, I’d be so tired, that nothing would stop me falling asleep. Pinning all my hopes onto one thing may not have been sensible in any case but exercise certainly didn’t seem to have the effect I thought it would. And so the sleepless nights continued.

Why Can’t I Sleep After Exercise?

Before we embark on answering this question, it should be said that for many people, exercising improves sleep quality and sleep duration. 

That said, exercise is, of course, a stimulating activity and releases adrenaline, making the body more alert, as well as raising the heartbeat and body temperature. As a result, some people find their brain goes into overdrive and the knock-on effect is that it’s harder to wind down. 

How to Sleep Better

If you feel that exercise is affecting your ability to fall asleep, it’s probably better not to exercise late into the afternoon and evening. 

Instead, give yourself at least 2-3 hours to decompress from exercise before heading to bed. That means that adrenaline levels can balance out, your heartbeat can return back to its normal rate and body temperature can cool down. 

If you really don’t have a choice and have to do it later in the day, try something less vigorous or intense. That’s right. Skip the boot camp class where the instructor gives you a military style beasting, and opt for something gentler like swimming, yoga or Pilates. To be fair, you’ll probably be glad to have a reason not to go!

Of course, you may not be able to sleep for other reasons too. Caffeine, alcohol, stress, anxiety, depression, menopause, dehydration, and bedroom environment can all affect sleep quality. So it may be necessary to look at your health, lifestyle and bedroom and make some adjustments to improve your sleep, like a black-out curtain, stopping caffeine intake after lunch or adopting mindfulness meditation.

How to Get Better Quality Sleep 

A good night of sleep after exercise is essential, because it allows the body to repair itself. One of the best ways to achieve a better quality and duration of sleep is to create a night-time sleep ritual.

The repetition of a ritual creates a mental cue for what’s about to happen. So if you follow the same routine every night, the ritual will become ingrained meaning that when you start your bedtime ritual, your brain will recognise that it’s time to wind down.

Something that you can incorporate into your evening sleep ritual is the Scentered Sleep Well Aromatherapy Candle, perfect to have alongside you during a relaxing soak in the bath or when reading a good book or Scentered Sleep Well Aromatherapy Balm, which should be applied a little before bedtime. 

scentered balm

The award-winning Sleep Well blend combines therapeutic essential oils, Lavender, Chamomile, Palmarosa and Ho Wood, which are balanced with Bois de Rose and Geranium. Patchouli, Clove and Ylang Ylang have been added to create a modern oriental twist to this balm’s scent. 

When you inhale the Sleep Well scent, miniscule molecules within the essential oils are speedily transported to the brain’s emotional centre named the Limbic System. This is an area of the brain that plays a role in controlling several physiological functions, including breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. 

It’s a wonderfully effective combination that will help you to slow your breathing and heartrate, transition into a sleepier, more relaxed mindset, and achieve a better, deeper quality of sleep whilst waking up feeling fully rested. 

We would love to hear about your mental wellness journey. You can also keep in touch via our Instagram @iamscentered or sign up to our newsletter for updates, news and offers.

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