I’ve always been a fairly light sleeper, but towards the end of my last training block I started to struggle with sleep - getting a few pretty poor nights (maybe like 4 hours sleep, despite having 8.5 hours in bed). I managed to push through most of my final hard workouts, feeling pretty spent by the end. I’ve tended to struggle sleeping when I’ve built up a ride or event the following day, and know I need to take training a bit less seriously. My theory was that my cortisol levels were higher than normal by the end of 5 weeks loading. The night the training block was over, I slept amazingly, and did so for another 2 or 3 nights after that. Towards the end of my recovery week my sleep started getting worse again - I’ve had 3 nights in a row of taking maybe 3 - 3.5 hours to get to sleep. I guess this rules out my high cortisol theory as my workload has been maybe 40% lower…
I most likely have some sort of undiagnosed anxiety, and have in recent months suffered a few times with ‘tightness’ when breathing at rest.
When I go to bed I lay there feeling like I might drop off, but I just can’t seem to - I also wake several times after first falling asleep, but can usually drop off again after I’ve been asleep once.
What I’ve tried
- I’ve tried making the bedroom cool by opening windows
- Cut down caffeinie (from say 4 coffees a day to 2, and little or no caffeinie in the afternoon)
- Blue light filter and reduce brightness on my phone at 20:00. I stepped this up to putting my phone onto flight mode and putting it away at 20:00.
- Attempted some relaxation techniques/breathing exercises, but can’t seem to focus enough to do this effectively when I’m in bed - maybe one to pursue more seriously…
- Cutting down water before bed to reduce the likelihood of having to get up for the toilet
- Earplugs - I’ve got some silicone earplugs that I’ve got used to. They seem to help a bit.
- Eye mask - I sleep on my side and have found decent eyemasks too rigid round the edges, and they just stick into my face.
- Herbal sleeping tablets (valerian root extract)
- Drowsy anti-histamine type sleeping tablets
- Hardcore sleeping tablets (Zopiclone). I was prescribed these over the phone. They do make me fall asleep, but somehow still don’t make me sleep right through. They sound a bit scary - super addictive, and you can easily become reliant on them to sleep. Apparently the effects can last 11 hours, so taking one if you can’t get to sleep after a couple of hours isn’t a great idea. I’ve only used these tablets sparingly - tending to put up with rubbish sleep and hoping to naturally get back to normal. I’ve been told I can only use them twice a week max anyway, and only got 14 in total.
I was breaking new ground with my training, and now I worry it’s going to all start going down the pan. I assume the wheels could well fall off pretty quickly if things carry on and I attempt to get back to previous levels of TSS (around 550 indoor/7.5-8 hours per week). I’ve already pushed back my FTP test from Tuesday to today - maybe I’ll push it back again…
I’m interested if others have had a similar experience and how you changed up your training (were you able to maintain?), and how you overcame it.