Training hard and still not sleeping, is this overtraining?

Hi all,

I’m really hoping for some advice. I’ve never been a good sleeper but this past week has been absolutely horrible. Since this Sunday I’ve been getting up at 3 or 4AM. I’ll lie in bed until about 6, trying to sleep, only to give up having slept less than 4 hours.

I’ve been training pretty hard and I’d expect to be able to sleep well. I remember Coach Chad mentioning that sleep disorders can be a symptom of overtraining. But can you be overtrained on a 6 hour week on the bike with 2 strength sessions?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

EDIT: Strangely enough, I started using HRV4Training and my recovery score is high despite my lack of sleep. :man_shrugging:

Nah, I think it’s virtually impossible to get classic overtraining syndrome on a LV plan or equivalent. There may be exceptions, but I haven’t heard of them.

That’s not to say your sleep isn’t being affected by training.

But before digging too deep into this, how tired are you at the moment? Are you wiped out? I go through cycles where I need 8 hours every day, and then dips where I only need 5-6 (for weeks on end), and I feel fine.

Also, during periods of reduced life stress, I naturally wake up earlier, yet fully energized, and continue to see gains in my training. I see the benefit of setting yourself up to sleep well but then letting the cards fall. Forcing yourself into a mold can/will create sleep anxiety that makes it even worse.

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Thanks for the reply.

I’d say that I’m more physically and mentally tired. The last two weeks were amazing (training wise), but this week has been super difficult despite just working at sweet-spot base.

I agree about forcing myself into a mold. When I can’t sleep I get super anxious, all I can think about is how much recovery I’m missing out on and how susceptible to illness I am due to lack of sleep.

I’m a fan of taking something to help once I reach the point of frustration. The trouble is to use any sleep aid only very temporarily. I use Benadryl on occasion for sleeping purposes, sometime I use it for allergies. Maybe once or twice a week would be OK, but I’d be wary of anything more. This just allows you to (hopefully) get and stay asleep and get that rested and recovered feeling for a night. Then you should try to reset some of your habits and do all the basic stuff you probably are already doing.

  • Lose the screens at least an hour before bed.
  • No caffeine past noon.
  • Schedule your harder sessions in the AM or early afternoon.
  • Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark enough, I had to get better blinds, big difference.
  • Try to keep the same bedtime routine.
  • Eat dinner as early as possible.
  • Ditch the Alcohol.
  • Try Cannabis. (I don’t suggest combustion, there’s plenty of safer methods.)
  • Read while in bed, no screens, actual books. (I always sleep better when I read to my son at night, I need to do this when I don’t have him too!)

These are all things that have helped me.

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Thanks for the reply!

I’m looking into CBD but the horror stories have been keeping me away from it.

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Quick note, I read “Why We Sleep” by Dr. Matthew Walker a while back. It scared the living daylights out of me and is what made me focus so heavily on getting enough sleep.

I’ve been hearing now from multiple anecdotal sources that the information in that book is overhyped, specifically the length of sleep your body needs. Does anyone have any studies or insight into whether or not those statements are true?

The training stress on the low volume plans is fairly low. As is the workout frequency. A little less sleep won’t derail your training here.

However, if you want to proactively do something about it follow up on @ibaldwin list. It’s pretty much spot on. If not, just wing it. You will be fine.

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Sleep is super individual. Some need more while others need less.

For what it’s worth, I am on the other end of the spectrum. 5 hours on average are enough to keep me going and getting a high stress life and high volume training managed.

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I’m a poor sleeper - last night was a prime example! No idea how much I got (checking the time just stresses me out more).

I’ve taken drowsy hayfever medication recently and it didn’t help. As a long shot, and cos I don’t really want to go to my GP at the moment to try and get melatonin, I tried some herbal sleeping tablets (Valerian root extract). I expected nothing, but it does seem to have helped me a little - I just have to remember to take it an hour before bed. So why not see how these options work out?

I’m a little addicted to my phone screen, so at 20:30 I have the blue light set to automatically reduce by about 70%. My screen looks gross, and I also turn down the brightness to about 20% or so at this time. You can also set it so the background in some apps is e.g. black instead of white.

I usually take magnesium and occasionally glycine before bed, but haven’t specifically noticed an affect. I think these little steps must add up to something that helps a little, even if it’s just a routine and a placebo effect…

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Never heard of these. Do tell.

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I’m not sure I’d call it overtraining, but if you’ve high levels of work/life stress you’d be surprised at how easily you can toast yourself with a few high intensity sessions. I’ve managed to do it in the past when I’ve been under pressure in work and at home. More burnout than overtraining. I need 7.5-8 hours or I will run into trouble after a while.

If it’s burnout Traditional Base might be an option. The Z2 stuff can reduce sympathetic input and increase vagal/parasympathetic tone - much better for relaxing.

Other than @ibaldwin ’s suggestions, I’d recommend; getting your training sessions in earlier, so your not going to bed wound up; and, fresh bedclothes - you’d be amazed at the difference it can make if you swap them very frequently.

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It’s not regulated in any way, and I believe it’s over hyped a bit. Although I look forward to more clinical research. I read something somewhere ( I know I know ) that the actual amounts varied widely to what was actually advertised CBD/mg. If you’re going to spend that kind of money, it’s an unknown.

I’ll have to find that article because they did have some brands that were closer to being true to advertised CBD/mg.

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I don’t remember the source, but another sleep researcher pointed out the relationship between hours of sleep and all cause mortality is a “U” shaped curve with the optimum number of hours around 7. This run’s counter to Matthew Walker’s claim that everyone needs 8. I agree with the recommendations of ibaldwin above, another thing to do is take a warm shower right before bed. Stepping out of the shower will chill you and help your core temp to drop, inducing sleep.

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I haven’t tried any strictly-CBD products since cannabis is legal here in California. I go straight for the THC edibles. I don’t have an addictive personality and only use it once every week or two, but YMMV.

Different people react to THC in different ways. For me, it numbs my legs and eventually puts me to sleep, which is exactly what I want after a hard 5-7 hour ride, a very stressful day at work, or like in your case, a string of poor nights’ sleep.

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Yep, me too. I’m not in a legal state so I’ve had to learn to make my own tinctures and infusions to get away from smoking and vaping. I sometimes joke that with a proper dose and after a hard ride, “I can’t feel my legs, (in a good way)” It’s certainly my favorite sleep aid. Downsides include being a bit more attracted to those late night snacks. Like you point out YMMV, and a lot of people react in the very opposite way, dosage is usually the issue. Too much is a very bad experience.

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So I’ve still been struggling with sleep this week. Does poor sleep sometime come in spates? Not sure what’s going on but I’m super anxious whenever I go to sleep now.

I’m not affiliated with this but a friend actually got this for me after hearing about my insomnia …
look up : Sunderstorm Kanha, cannabis infused, 100mg thc … i cut the gummy in half … it’s BLISS … I’m not a pot smoker actually hated it … haven’t slept so deeply in 20 years!! … really and it does not have the weird pot crazy spinning thoughts …

Develop very good sleep routine that ibaldwin recommended … there are no tricks but he’s on the money … I use the THC gummy when I get outta wack to get me back on routine …

the one thing I would add to ibaldwin … if i need to reset routine (which is often) I’ll wake up at 4:30am or earlier … so I’m exhausted by the evening … that is really the main thing that helps along side the THC gummy .

again ibaldwin nailed it + the THC to help and then you don’t need to use it once you get into rhythm

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yes it does…are your numbers and training sessions suffering? Are you still looking forward to riding, hitting your marks etc? Nobody in their life has not had a period where sleep has been weird.

This is the main problem, worrying about poor sleep, its sort of a self fulfilling propehecy.

I dont know the author youre reading but basically dont worry too much. Have a fairly regular pattern for going to sleep and getting up in the morning.

I wake up at 4 almost every night regardless of training or bedtime, in summertime its more frequent because if the early sunrise - you may want black out curtains. I usually get up, go downstairs and end up napping on the sofa about six.

Much less than six hours is bad, most GPs would agree, but it doesnt have to be continuous, and as long as youre basically prine for a long time your body is recovering.

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If you can, let yourself nap. Either immediately after lunch or after work. I’d aim for 40mins, but even 20mins can make a huge difference. You get a bit of recovery and it removes some of the stress over not sleeping properly - as you know you’ve already banked some sleep.

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