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The Problems With Sleep After Skiing

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Written By Anđela Rajković

Certified Sleep Consultant

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29 April 2024 8 min read

You can't go to sleep after skiing? Don't worry – you are not the only one!

Everybody and their mother has had problems with falling asleep after skiing all day long. The reasons for that are many (and, fear not, we will mention them soon), but, the important thing is not to freak out – you don't have insomnia and you haven't ruined your circadian rhythm, you just have to adapt your mind and body to this new situation you are in. And, once you do it, you'll be able to have a good night's sleep tonight and every night that follows.

However, it is important to understand that although sleep issues are normal when you change your surroundings and the things you do during your day, you should not neglect them. Not having proper sleep, that is, being sleep deprived, can lead to many bad things. For instance, you can lose your focus and have an accident on your skiing holiday. Or, if your skiing holiday is longer and if you spend all of your nights wide awake, you can start developing some serious physical and mental health problems. So, never underestimate the power of sleep!

The adrenaline rush of skiing can keep you awake

It just goes without saying that skiing is exciting. It doesn't matter whether you are a professional trying to reach that finish line in a few seconds or an amateur who is using the skies for the first time, your blood is probably going to rush to your heart like crazy. Don't worry – that is just adrenaline. And, there is nothing wrong with it – quite the contrary, adrenaline is that excitement that gives you more energy (and happiness, if you ask us). But, because of all that new energy (and happiness), it might be quite difficult to hit the bed in the bed and have that deep sleep you deserve.

An image of a person skiing.

What you can do to keep that adrenaline under control is give your body and mind some rest. Yes, we know, who wants to get rest among all that skiing fun, but hey, if you don't want that adrenaline to drain you and prevent you from sleeping, it is something you have to do.

Besides resting, you can also consider the following tips to keep your adrenaline down:

The bright sunlight can disrupt your sleep

When you are on top of that mountain, jumping over the slopes, besides the adrenaline, you will also see a lot of sunlight. That is great actually. We need the sun to help our bodies to create vitamin D. And, we need vitamin D so that our bodies can create melatonin – a hormone responsible for the quality of our sleep.

But, if all that sun is actually helping us fall asleep, what is the problem? Well, the problem can arise from exposing our bodies (and minds) to a big change. Sun, although great, can affect us in many ways, ways we are not used to, and thus make us have difficulties falling asleep later in the evening. So, our advice is to start small. Don't spend the entire day skiing, instead, have some pauses in between. Moreover, always wear a hat and sunglasses. Invest in good sunglasses because the sun on the mountain (all mountains) is really strong even though it doesn't feel like it.

Skiing can lead to muscular aches and pains

If you are an amateur, well, prepare to have a lot of aches and pains. In other words, prepare for a lot of ouches. Skiing is an activity that will move all the muscles in your body. You will not feel anything at first, but, as soon as you hit the bed, or right before your bedtime, you will start feeling aches and pains in your muscles. Your arms and legs will be the ones suffering the most, but, don't be surprised if you feel discomfort in some other parts of your body.

Yes, all the aches and pains will lead to nights full of tossing and turning – painful tossing and turning! So, prepare for some sleep issues. We are not going to lie – you will feel the muscular pain for a couple of days and nights, but, don't worry, that too shall pass.

An image a person's legs on skiis.

Keep in mind that there are certain things you can do to prevent this pain. For instance, before you go on your skiing holiday, exercise. Prepare your muscles for all the hard work that is coming. Then, before skiing, warm up. You can do some cardio exercise for example. And, after skiing, do some stretching as that is what will relax the muscles.

And, if you do notice a lot of pain after skiing, make sure you stay hydrated and eat well (eat protein especially). Food and water are what will recover those muscles.

Skiing can put stress on your mind and body

All kinds of exercise put stress on our minds and bodies. And, stress, in return, affects our sleep. It keeps us anxious and wake at night. The answer to this problem is simple – don't stress out that much! Okay, we know how this sounds – sometimes, you just can't control all that stress. But, you can do some things to lower it and have a night of rest and sleep.

For instance, if the stress coming from skiing affects your mind and body, after every ski day, you stretch your muscles, do some yoga, eat some healthy foods, drink enough water, have some fun during the day, etc. If you feel good, your mind and body will do too.

Skiing can increase your caffeine intake

Drinking plenty of caffeine while you ski can happen because of two reasons. First, you will want to have more energy to continue with your training. And, second, you will want to warm yourself up in one of many beautiful and rustic coffee shops on the mountain.

Coffee is not good for you! Don't get us wrong, one cup of it won't do anything to you. But, several of them will – they will make you feel anxious during the day and they will make falling asleep during the night impossible. Yes, caffeine can be a real problem – not only when skiing, but always. Thus, do your best to avoid it. Drink it in the early hours only as that will wake you up, but stay away from it after that.

So, if you generally like a medium firm feel, Euro tops are probably your best bet. They might even offer better motion isolation, which is quite useful if you're sharing the bed. On the other hand, softer models like pillow tops offer a much softer feel than their non-pillow counterparts and generally focus on comfort.

An image of a cup of coffee.

Skiing can affect your circadian rhythm

When we change our day and night routines, we affect our circadian rhythm. And, what is a circadian rhythm, you ask? Well, simply put, that is each person's sleep-wake pattern. It controls when we go to sleep and when we wake up. However, this circadian rhythm can be easily affected by the environment we are in. For instance, if you are located somewhere where it's very light and bright, your brain will receive signals and activate certain hormones that will tell your mind that it's not bedtime yet.

While you are skiing, there are several things that can ‘play' with your circadian rhythm:

An image of a woman sleeping.

All these things can affect your circadian rhythm and as a result, you will experience the same issues we mentioned before – having difficulties falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, and waking up tired in the morning.

Luckily, there is a way to get your circadian rhythm back on track – stick to your sleeping schedule as much as possible. Or, do some of the things (which we will mention below) that will help you get better sleep after skiing.

How to get better sleep after skiing

Now you know why you can't sleep well or why you can't sleep at all after skiing. To be honest, you may not be able to have a good night's sleep at all until you are back home in your own bed. But, that is not the reason for you to settle for poor-quality sleep. You should focus on your sleep so that you have a good holiday and come home rested and stress-free. If that is what you want – give some of the following tips a try:

These are just some of the things you can try doing when on your skiing holiday. So, don't be lazy. Doing a couple of them, or all of them, can significantly ‘up' your sleeping game. And, once you are back from your holiday, or your training, you can say that you actually slept well after skiing!

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About the author

Anđela Rajković
As a CPD certified Sleep Consultant and well-practiced sleep enthusiast, I find a lot of joy in bringing my expertise to our readers – preferably those who love to sleep. With a background in the English language and literature and a love of research, I'm always seeking new ways to share the latest sleep science and bed-related findings. And, when I'm not connecting with my readers, you can find me exploring the great outdoors, or, well, curling up in bed.
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