/ Insomnia after an evening wall session

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Cake - on 10 Jan 2014
I tend to go to the bouldering wall after the kids are in bed so I only get to the wall at about 8 pm. I leave at about 10 o'clock or earlier, but I usually can't get to sleep afterwards for ages. As this happens weekly it is becoming a bit of a drag.

I have tried eating a Twix afterwards and not eating anything and also having a bit of a decent meal, but these don't seem to make a difference. It is about 15 minutes drive home and Mrs Cake normally wants a bit a natter before, so I would have thought adrenalin levels would have subsided by bedtime.

Does anyone have any ideas of how to deal with it apart from climbing at a different time?
maisie on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

You're already aware of exercise-induced insomnia, so this may be a self-answering query. But we've all been there as parents, and it's not like you have a lot of choice with littlies.

You're probably pushing cortisol and ACTH levels around, and an hour to get these under control is optimistic - you may simply need more time.

Exercise tends to raise core temperature, which can have a short term effect on sleep latency (measure of the time it takes to drop off). Obviously, you don't want to go rolling in the snow (fat chance), but some kind of controlled cooling down might help.

Some people find antihistamines help, but it's a drug intervention and may affect sleep quality.

Both lettuce and valerian have been shown to have modest effects on sleep latency.

But for me, the number one sleep inducer is to watch ASMR vids on YouTube (aka the whisperers). Weird as f###, but it doesn't half work. Just explain it to your wife first, or she'll think it's some kind of porn.....

Martin
Noelle - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

Sometimes I get this after an evening bouldering session too. Often, you get talking to people in the wall or get absorbed in a problem and it's 10pm before you realise it. Then you have to drive home, have something to eat, walk the dog etc. All this activity before bedtime definitely works to keep you awake.

I find that eating carbs afterwards (sort of inducing a carb-coma) can help. So, mash is great, or pasta or anything else you fancy. Maybe not chocolate, as it has a stimulant effect.

Yoga never does this to me though, even if I finish practise at a similar time to bouldering. The last 15 mins of the class are spent in relaxation and this is probably the key to it.

I would suggest doing some gentle stretching or relaxation after your bouldering session. Dedicate the last 15 mins to this, instead of multiple reps of pull-ups. Alternatively, you could try some yoga classes, as the relaxation exercises can be used anywhere and might help you drop off to sleep in bed.
ripper - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

I think I can see your mistake. You leave the wall at 10pm and go home, bypassing the all important warm-down stage of 'the pub'...
Hooo - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to maisie:

I too get wall-induced insomnia, so I Googled ASMR. How long do you have to persist with the videos? I got so bored and irritated after 10 minutes that I gave up.
Simos on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

I climb 8-10 too for the same reasons, in general I am always short of sleep (probably average 3-4 hours a night due to work) so I can pretty much sleep whenever. I have dinner after climbing, maybe try that?

Also, I don't know much about your issue but would it not help if you had a short sleep the night before?

The other thing I can think of is maybe start doing a proper warm down say 30 mins before you leave the wall? Climb super easy routes and then stretching.

Does it make any difference if you have an easy session? ie is it intensity that does it?
maisie on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Hooo:

You're doing it wrong. Try sitting on your left hand on the way home.
Hooo - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to maisie:

Hmm. Would make changing gear awkward. :-)
r0x0r.wolfo - on 10 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

I would possibly see if you could get to the wall just a touch earlier and get away earlier. 1 and a half to 2 hours at the wall is great. Do eat immediately after you climb, I wouldn't even wait till you got home. Not a Sunday roast but a small meal with plenty of protein, this will help with recovery which is important whether your sleep or not. Perhaps a little more cooling down and don't try totally knacker yourself everytime, it won't necessarily help with sleep at all.

Sex makes a lot of men sleepy so you can always try giving your wife one when you get home ;) aswell. Just some ideas.
jack_44 - on 11 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

I work in a pub and never get home before midnight and have a similar problem. I always get home, and spend at least an hour having a cup of tea and watching television or reading. I tend to get to sleep ok after this. Winding down and relaxing before bed is the best option I find.
MischaHY - on 11 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

Try harder? ;) Seriously though, I always sleep well after climbing due to being so physically exhausted.
crayefish - on 11 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

I never have trouble sleeping after a climb... a few pints in the pub afterwards sorts that out!

Not really a long term solution, but a glass of red or a pint at home might help send you into the land of nod.
riddle - on 11 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

You could try 5-HTP (see Google), I buy mine from Holland & Barratt
Cake - on 11 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:
Loving the mix of responses here: Try harder;... try an easier session.

I do think that if I had more time at home afterwards it would make a difference, but getting to the wall before 8 seemed impossible until recently. Pub is not an option, as it needs to be more than 2 pints to help sleep (and that wouldn't help recovery much). R0x0r.wolfo suggested protein, Noelle suggested carbs, but I think I've had particularly bad nights straight after a big meal. I do vaguely recall Dave Macloed stating the importance of High GI carbs after exercise.

Doing an easier session is not really an option as it is my only training and it's once a week, so it wouldn't be training if I didn't try would it? However there are different types of trying hard. Perhaps volume would be better for sleep than strength, or vice-versa.

I think that so far the decent warm-down idea is resonating best with me.

Thanks guys - any other advice welcome.
Post edited at 20:32
howifeel - on 11 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:
Sorry but my theory would go along with the 'you're not tired enough' one, this based on the intensity shocking your body and waking it up. Either an easier climbing session, longer extra warm down, stay up later or do more hard sessions so it is normal. Prob not right but an idea. Jimb
Cake - on 11 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

I'll have to check out these youtube videos too.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 11 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:
> Loving the mix of responses here: Try harder;... try an easier session.

> I do think that if I had more time at home afterwards it would make a difference, but getting to the wall before 8 seemed impossible until recently. Pub is not an option, as it needs to be more than 2 pints to help sleep (and that wouldn't help recovery much). R0x0r.wolfo suggested protein, Noelle suggested carbs, but I think I've had particularly bad nights straight after a big meal. I do vaguely recall Dave Macloed stating the importance of High GI carbs after exercise.

Yeah, you want to keep it light. Big snack/light meal. Have this immediately after climbing and you'll give yourself a bit of a chance before you get home/go to sleep. I'd say not to skimp on the protein as it will help muscle recovery. The rest is up to you.

> Doing an easier session is not really an option as it is my only training and it's once a week, so it wouldn't be training if I didn't try would it? However there are different types of trying hard. Perhaps volume would be better for sleep than strength, or vice-versa.

It's tricky this, I would say try to find another time to train a little, You need to take some pressure off this "one slot". Put a finger board up? and do some excercises at home through the week for a bit of balance (climbing related or not) if you are time starved..
Post edited at 20:45
Loughan - on 11 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

I would go for a run late at night but this can mean I'm fired up as I'm trying to sleep so my wind-down actions are:
Rehydrate with a glass of water or two.
Possibly a banana, apple or couple of crackers. Something light basically
Do some cool down stretches. Bob Anderson has a book on stretching but a yogic type cool down is really calming. This is done while having the wifely natter then it's onto bed with possibly a glass of milk and if I'm still not wound down I'll read a book for a while.

Good luck
kp64zl - on 12 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

How do you normally sleep?

Are there other situations when you don't sleep so well?
Cake - on 12 Jan 2014
In reply to kp64zl:

I normally sleep well. 8 hours (or however much time I get in the bed) each night through. I don't sleep well when I am stressed, but that is rare these days.

I don't get the same trouble after an evening outside, sport or read, but I feel like I'm knackered in a different way then.
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kp64zl - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:
Are you pushing yourself mentally during your wall sessions? i.e. trying lots of new stuff etc.

There is quite a literature on the interactions between learning and sleep. Although sleep is important for memory consolidation, new learning affects sleep -- altering the balance between different sleep stages -- as far as I remember that would mean more REM sleep (dreaming sleep).

I am in a similar situation to you with regards to climbing from about 8pm to 10pm after children in bed. I usually go for a drink afterwards, go to bed about midnight and don't have the sleep issues you mention (I don't push the climbing too hard). However, if I am to work late at night (requiring some proper concentration) then I sleep rather badly.

Not sure if this makes any sense, alternatively I may be completely off the mark -- but maybe you could experiment one evening at the wall and only climb easy routes (e.g. those you have done before) etc that don't need much brain power and see if you sleep better. i.e. same amount of physical exercise but engage brain less.
Post edited at 08:12
Cake - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to kp64zl:

What you say does make sense and I also sleep badly if I have been doing a bit of marking (I'm a teacher) immediately before bed. However, I did experiment with doing easy problems last week. I went for the 5+ circuit at the wall and attempted to complete it. I probably managed to do about 20 routes or so, with the occasional hard one thrown in because I got bored. This definitely wasn't mentally very taxing. In fact, I don't think climbing ever is for me.

It could well be that if I simply went to bed at 11, I would sleep well, but it just feels like I should be in bed. Perhaps I will be strict with myself tomorrow night.

Ta
Simos on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

8 hours? Maybe you should define what insomnia means for you :-) I climb 8-10, home at 10:40, dinner by 11-ish and then a couple of hours chilling down at least or working before going to bed. I don't think I'd be able to go to sleep right after climbing but then again I usually average 4-5 hours sleep max so I am used to it...
Cake - on 14 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

> I don't think I'd be able to go to sleep right after climbing but then again I usually average 4-5 hours sleep max so I am used to it...

Indeed, but 4-5 hours sleep is definitely not enough for me. A couple of hours' work from 11 pm sounds akin to hell to me
Hensha1974 - on 14 Jan 2014
In reply to Cake:

There's no science behind this but I began to find that if I had a long hot shower after a midweek climbing session that I could get asleep a lot easier......it's either the hot shower relaxing my aching body to a sedative state or not having earache from my girlfriend for getting into bed smelly and sweaty....but it certainly helped with my restlessness after a late midweek climbing session.

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