Is it a bad idea to do a chal­leng­ing in­ter­val ses­sion too close to bed­time?

Runner's World (UK) - - Coach - BY ALEX HUTCHINSON

It may af­fect your sleep be­cause it raises the lev­els of stress hor­mones such as adren­a­line, no­ra­drenaline and cor­ti­sol. Th­ese hor­mones are pro­duced as part of the ‘fight or flight’ re­sponse in prepa­ra­tion for ac­tion. Late ex­er­cise could leave th­ese hor­mones cir­cu­lat­ing when you should be wind­ing down. Also, cor­ti­sol lev­els nor­mally nat­u­rally de­crease as the day goes on, but in­tense ex­er­cise will raise lev­els. En­dor­phins re­leased by a work­out could be buzzing around, too.

I rarely do late-evening ses­sions now, as they don’t fit well with fam­ily life. But when I was younger I did prac­ti­cally all my in­ter­val ses­sions late. I felt very tired af­ter­wards, es­pe­cially af­ter re­fu­elling. I used to think I would sleep well but af­ter a while I would find it very dif­fi­cult to sleep. If your sleep is af­fected try to have at least three hours be­tween fin­ish­ing your work­out and go­ing to bed. Try not to rely too much on stim­u­lants – such as caffeine – be­fore the ses­sion, as this could make it tougher to get to sleep af­ter­wards. Af­ter your work­out eat a nu­tri­tious meal that has a good por­tion of carbs, make sure you are well hy­drated and cool your body tem­per­a­ture be­fore bed. Stretch be­fore bed, too, to take ten­sion out of your mus­cles. Re­mem­ber, though, that peo­ple who ex­er­cise reg­u­larly tend to sleep bet­ter than those that don’t.

TIM­ING IS EV­ERY­THING Ex­er­cise will help you sleep, but don’t do it right be­fore you hit the hay.

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