Insomnia Due to Lifting

Hello everyone

I have always struggled with insomnia at some points since I started lifting. I have tried many things so far, but none of them seemed to work in the long run.

Here is some background information about myself. I am 21 years old, and I am 171cm (5’7) tall. I started lifting and bulking 13 months ago when I only weighed 52kg (115lb) at around 14% BF. Now I am 77kg (170lb) at around 18% BF.

Personally, I am happy with my progress, my life completely changed in this year. However, I think I could gain muscle faster if I fix my insomnia issue.

The sleeping problems start when I work out intense for ~3 days in a row. I always work out for around 90min in one session and I always go to complete muscle failure during each set.

The problem is not falling asleep, but staying asleep. I fall asleep fairly quickly, but I tend to wake up after like 5h, and I have big troubles falling back asleep again. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, it depends on how intense my workouts were the days before.

Due to this issue, I can only work out around 4 days per week maximum without getting sleep issues. I always need to take 3 days off per week in order to not disturb my sleep too badly.

I have tried many things already, but nothing seemed to work well. Melatonin only works for falling asleep faster, but it does not keep me asleep. I also tried ZMA, Ashwaghanda and other herbal stuff but nothing seems to help. I even went to my doctor, and he prescribed me 15mg Mirtazapine for sleeping. Initially it worked well, and I could get my 8h sleep, but after a few months it stopped working also. And I also don’t think that taking sedating antidepressants for sleep would be a good idea in the long run. Luckily, it did not make me addicted, and the sleeping situation did not worsen after I stopped taking Mirtazapine.

I also tried eating carbs before bed, but it didn’t help. I kind of find it hard to believe that I am in overtraining since my volume is not that much, but this could be one explanation since my symptoms get better after a few days off. I am also rarely getting DOMS, so maybe it is overtraining of the nervous system that drive the muscles?

Did anyone here have similar sleeping struggles with staying asleep at night?

Thank you in advance!

You have found a problem and a solution.
So there is no more problem, right? Train 4 days, no longer that 60-70mins and dont take each set to failure. Problem solved.

1)Almost no one needs more than 4 days of training. Most people can do good with 2. After they get a bit more advanced, 3-4 is best.
2)There is almost no benefit of taking sets to failure. We have enough science that backs it up.
And if you, for some weird reason, want to go to failure, it means your sessions are 30mins long. Even if we BELIEVE that there is some SLIGHT benefit to failure, there is no more than 1 total set done then.

Most science agrees on the fact that you can either do 1 set to failure or 2-3 sets of 1-2 RIR. So either your sessions are 60min long, or 30min long, depending on what you enjoy doing more. But a classic beginner mistake is doing both combined, leading to sleep and libido issues.


The problem is not falling asleep, but staying asleep. I fall asleep fairly quickly, but I tend to wake up after like 5h, and I have big troubles falling back asleep again. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, it depends on how intense my workouts were the days before.

I experienced this issue more than once before and it is frustrating as you mention. It’s not that you can’t continue onward and deal with 5 hrs of sleep but as you mention it burns the back of your mind that you know it’s not a good idea long term.

I dealt with this most recently after trying conjugate. The program was a blast, but my body just couldn’t handle it as noted above and I was forced to pull back from continuing with that type of training. I think part of maturing in this endeavor is learning to listen to your own bodies subtle feedback and using that information to make changes.

I believe Hank outlined the problem and solution quite well.

I don’t know about anybody else but I would like to see pics of this transformation.
As for the sleeping issues…
Are you tired and dragging ass? Not recovering?
Not everybody has to sleep 8 hours. There is literally whole thread about this.


First thing i saw.

+55lbs and only 4%BF in 13 months seems… questionable.

Can you describe this in more detail please? How many working sets per exercise, how many exercises per muscle, how many muscles in a day, how many training days in a week? Might be easier for you to just lay out your training for us to read.

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When are you lifting? Hard workouts within 3 hrs of bedtime keep me awake too.

Thanks a lot for all your replies and the help!


When I started working out at home initially with resistance bands/bodyweight I always did 6 days per week with one rest day. But in the gym I can really go a lot harder which probably puts to much load on myself as you said. I already had the plan to do a 4 day split a while ago but then I didn’t do it because I still saw good progress with my usual program. I will try the 4 day split now and see how it goes.

I just love the feeling when going to failure because I thought that it maximizes the microtears in the muscles. But if science says it doesn’t really increase the gains I also don’t see the point anymore, I will experiment what happens if I go a little easier.


For me going with 5hr of sleep is fine for around 1 week, but then it really starts to take a toll on my strength and mental state. I get weaker and I can’t really focus on the exercises anymore. I also noticed that I mostly only get DOMS after a workout if I do not get proper sleep, it impairs my recovery a lot. I read that the natural HGH peak is also the highest during sleep, so I think sleeping as long as possible is the best for a natural lifter.


I posted my progress 3 months ago here in this thread and described my routine a bit: 10 Month Bulk - Cut Now or Continue?

I am still gaining weight at a steady pace of around 1.5kg/month. I know its really a lot of weight to put on in 1 year, but this is mostly due to the fact that I was severly underweight before I started lifting. I gained like 10kg within 2 months of lifting when I started working out at home and eating a lot more. If I started from a more normal weight I would have gained a lot less in the same timespan.

Here is a description of my current workout days:

Chest/Triceps/Delts day:
DB shoulder press 4×10
DB chest press 4×10
DB lateral raises 4×15
Machine chest press 5×10
Cable triceps pushdown 4×10
Machine reverse fly 4×10
Weighted dips 4×10

Back/biceps/traps day:

Lat pulldown 5×10
Reverse grip Lat pulldown 5×10
Cable rows 5×10
Machine biceps preacher curls 5×10
BB shrugs 5×10
Hammer curls 5×10

Leg day:

Leg press 5×10
Hack squat 5×10
BB Hip thrusts 5×10
Leg extension machine 5×10
Adductor/Abductor machine 5×10

Initially, i tried to do the typical PPL program with 1 rest day per week using this setup, but I think this is getting too much for a natural lifter where the recovery rate is reduced.


For me I noticed that it doesn’t really help my sleep issues when I work out earlier in the morning, but I also avoid exercise 3h before sleep as my resting heart rate takes some time to reduce.

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OP you might be interested in an article on another site written by Dr Mike Israetel and Dr. James Hoffmann:

Fatigue Indicators and How To Use Them

Tnation has awesome articles and will have good information on this subject as well I just haven’t come across one that lays this topic out in such a manner as the article noted above.

33 working sets

30 working sets

25 working sets

And you did this 2x per week…? You need to reduce volume.

I don’t understand how you’re getting 4-5 sets of 10 reps every set, and also going to failure.

Take a look at Jordan Peter’s stuff. 1-2 sets to ACTUAL failure per exercise, and 1-2 exercises per muscle PER WEEK. I would be trying to emulate this.


Recovery is a bit more nuanced than this. Enhanced folks have better muscle recovery, but worse CNS recovery.

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That’s a LOT of volume. Maybe switch things up a bit and try heavier weight, fewer reps and exercises for a while.

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Ha! We were just talking about this. @T3hPwnisher does a great job of filming intense sets. Maybe a solid reference point.

I need to get the courage to actually film a failure set on something like leg presses one of these days and point out where I want to quit/ am sure I’m done and how that’s actually like 9 reps away.


In that regard, reading that they love the feeling of going to failure leads me to believe we have differing definition of failure…

I legit needed about a week to recover from the last time I failed a squat.

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As a couple others have already mentioned, this seems to reveal the solution here. I can’t remember the last time I lifted weights 5 times in 1 week. Realistically, it was probably 8-10 years ago, and it was definitely before I became a competitive strength athlete (meaning, it was before I was getting my best results). So if 3 days of rest every week actually fixes your problem, do that.

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I recommend you learn to master the art of balance between frequency, volume and intensity.

It’s easy to get fixated by the numbers. One scientific finding that makes me question it all - is the concensus about how many working sets per muscle is needed. Hell! One could build a decent physique by only performing 1-2 sets (5 mins) on a selected musclegroup a day!

In my opinion your frequency and volume is way too much. How about cutting the volume in half + only train 3 days a week? Give it a try for a month and report back here how it all went.

I did a similar program for years, and in retrospect, I was extremely overtrained, suffering from low energy (testosterone) and gave up too many more important things in life. Megarexia can be a bitch. Too bad we don’t realize it while under the influence.