The late night bike ride insomnia problem

At Cycle Lifestyle we like to take a positive approach to cycling. But sometimes a positive approach means making a constructive effort to solve little problems (as opposed to getting obsessed with big insoluble problems: “control what you can control and don’t worry about what you can’t” is a key lesson for living well and being happy).

So can anything be done about the late night bike ride insomnia problem?

I’m talking about those late evening rides home – after about 9pm – which leave you so buzzing you can’t sleep afterwards for a few hours. Perhaps you’ve been out socialising, or to the cinema, or are heading back from a friend’s house, or have been working late. A late ride home in London can be so joyful – the traffic is lighter and so, too, it seems is the air. You cut easily through the dark on a bike. And the city lights look beautiful, filling you with optimism and a sense of being part of something.

But then, when your head hits the pillow, there’s a faint ringing in your ears. Your thoughts are like a hurricane. Your tiredness is balanced with alertness – the yin and yang of sleeplessness.

Insomnia is very frustrating. I’ve never really come up with a watertight method for avoiding or dealing with it after a late night ride. But there are a few things which I think help.

Have a snack when you get home – a slice of bread or more, some pasta, a bowl of cereal, a few biscuits, even a teaspoon of sugar. Relax downstairs with a hot chocolate for an hour before you go to bed. Know the signs when you're in bed: as soon you sense that you are too buzzing to sleep, don’t lie there frustratedly for hours. Get up, get the kettle on, get some food, stick the TV on, or read a book.

Also, get warm when you get home. Have a hot shower. Get an extra blanket, or snuggle under one on the sofa. Wear a jumper over your pyjamas, and put some socks on.

If you’ve got lots of ideas flying manically round your head after your ride – cycling tends to have that effect all the time, not just at night – then write them down. Get them out of your head, or they’ll reverberate in there for hours.

Another option is to buy an electric bike and use the motor for the journey home. For me, it seems to be late night rides of longer than about 5 miles which cause insomnia. An electric bike turns a longer ride into a much shorter one.

Well, those are my suggestions for avoiding or dealing with late night bike ride insomnia. I’d love to hear yours. 

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