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Should Sleeping After Workout Be Part Of Your Routine?

Although both are of utmost importance, if we have to decide, we would say recovery is even more important for professional athletes than exercise routine. And without restful sleep, recovery cannot be complete.

You remember how the careers of pro athletes lasted incomparably shorter 30 years ago than today. While improved training and equipment have certainly contributed to this, understanding recovery and implementing different recovery methods into a daily routine has had the biggest impact. So, now we see Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James and Rafael Nadal still competing at the highest level even at 35 years or older.

Roger Federer considers sleep the most important thing for recovery, so he often sleeps over 12 hours a day. We tell you all this not because we think you are a professional athlete, but to explain to you how important sleep and recovery are in general. 

Because if recovery works wonders for professionals whose bodies are exposed to the high intensity workouts, then it will help you even more after moderate physical activity. The answer to the question should sleeping after workout be part of your routine and other answers find out in this article.

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    Is it normal to feel sleepy after a workout?

    We cannot say that it is normal to feel sleepy after a workout or that it is a sign of a problem. It can be both. Of course it is normal to feel tired after a workout. If we are not tired at all, this implies that the workout was not good enough and that we did not expose the body to the necessary challenge for our muscles to progress. But if we can barely keep our eyes open, it could mean that the activity was too strenuous for our fitness level at the time.

    An image of a man sleeping after the workout.

    If you are in great shape than you should consider whether you ingested proper food, as well as enough fluids, to avoid dehydration since our body temperature goes up. If none of this is a problem, then most likely the workout was grueling and that is why you are sleepy.

    Do you have problems with falling asleep in general?

    Maybe sleepiness has nothing to do with workout but is a consequence of you having problems with falling asleep and sleep quality in general. More than 15 million adults in the UK suffer from insomnia. Also, a large number have a problem with anxiety at night. Pay attention to how much you sleep at night on average.

    Also, it is not only important how much time passes from when you go to bed until you get up, but the quality of sleep is also important. A great night’s sleep that lasts 5 hours is more effective than waking up every hour and seemingly sleeping 8 hours. If you have trouble sleeping, you should definitely avoid late night workouts and caffeine intake in the afternoon and evening since that can lead to post exercise insomnia.

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    Why do I feel sleepy after the workout?

    We will now focus on the reasons that are closely related to the feeling of sleepiness after a workout. While there are certainly more than two, ATP reduction and serotonin increase are without a doubt the two most important.

    An image of a young woman feeling sleepy after the workout.

    Adenosine Triphosphate reduction

    Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule that transports and provides energy for actions such as muscle contraction and nerve impulses. That is why ATP is so important during workouts, and creatine supplementation is used because it increases ATP energy production. After training, ATP reserves are depleted and therefore you can feel like you don’t have energy at all. ATP is generally quickly replenished even during the workout, and within half an hour after the end it will be fully replenished.

    Central Nervous System & dopamine/serotonin increase

    This phenomenon is called central fatigue and it is consequence of nervous and endocrine systems working together. Workouts provoke the secretion of happiness hormones and this is one of the main reasons why they are so healthy. But when dopamine and serotonin are secreted, then the signals in the central nervous system decrease, muscle activation is weaker and blood pressure drops, so all that lead to drowsiness.

    An image of a young woman trying to stay awake after the workout session.

    What are the pros of sleeping after workout?

    A post-workout nap is something you should incorporate into your routine, especially if you have more than three workouts a week. Following are pros of post-workout naps.

    Muscle recovery

    During the workout, we expose the muscles to stress, so that their strength and size progresses, to put it simply. So after that, the muscles have to recover, and that is achieved through nutrition and rest. During sleep, hormones are secreted that accelerate tissue regeneration and muscle repair, so sleep is essential. Without proper rest, you won’t experience all the benefits of workouts.

    An image of a young man recovered his muscles after the workout sleep.

    More sleep means less sleep deprivation

    Sleep deprivation is a condition that is very bad for our body as a whole, even when you do not have physical activity. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system weakens, and cognitive and physical functions are also slower, which certainly leads to poor performance during workouts and in general. So when you take a nap after a workout, you will feel rejuvenated and you will decrease sleep debt. Therefore, you won’t be feeling sleepy.

    Less physical fatigue

    Physical fatigue is a normal occurrence after physical activity. But if you have a lot of obligations after a workout, physical fatigue will prevent you from doing those obligations the right way, so you need at least a short break. Short nap will be enough to have energy for the rest of the day.

    Mental alertness

    Mental alertness is probably even more important to you than physical freshness. You’ve probably had the feeling many times that your brain is working at 20% capacity after a workout. To regain the mental clarity you need for work and other things, sleep for half an hour to an hour.

    What are the cons of sleeping after workout?

    While we don’t think there are many, if any, cons of sleeping after workout there are surely a few things that may bother certain people.

    Disrupted nighttime sleep schedule

    If you sleep 3 or 4 hours during the day, it will definitely disrupt your night time sleep schedule. Then you will not sleep until late at night, and then in the morning you will be tired when you get up for work and so you will fall into a vicious circle. This problem is very easy to solve because naps during the day should not last long and then it will not affect the night’s sleep.

    An image of a young man having trouble with falling asleep.

    Grogginess

    Many people do not feel fresh when they wake up, either in the morning or after nap, but they rather feel groggy which is certainly not what you should get from a short nap. Our advice is to drink coffee and take a shower, to help you avoid grogginess.

    Making the best out of your sleeping after workout session

    In order to maximize your recovery and at the same time avoid disrupting your nighttime sleep schedule, you need to take advantage of post-workout naps in the right way.

    Take a nap before 3PM

    It is best to do your workout before 1 or 2 PM, have lunch and then take a nap until 3 PM. Then you have plenty of time until the evening to do everything you have to do and give your body enough time to get tired again so you can have a good night’s sleep.

    An image of a young man taking a day nap after the workout.

    Rehydrate before a nap

    You have to rehydrate before nap or you will wake up groggy. Also, as soon as you wake up, continue to rehydrate. Do not drink only water, but also sports drinks to get the necessary electrolytes.

    An image of a young woman drinking water during the workout.

    Reduce noise and darken your room

    It is harder to fall asleep during the day, because there is light and noise all around us. Try to reduce noises as much as you can, and darken the room completely. If you can’t provide yourself with a dark and quiet space for a nap, try using earplugs and wearing a sleep mask.

    An image of a young woman closing the curtains on the window.

    Do you lose weight when you sleep right after the workout?

    There are no hard facts that can support the answer to the question of do you lose muscle mass when you sleep right after the workout. Some personal trainers recommend staying awake and keep moving to burn even more calories and thus initiate weight loss, while others argue that burning calories will definitely continue after a workout, whether you sleep or not.

    We believe that a post-workout nap cannot harm you either in terms of burning calories or in general. The number of calories you will burn depends much more on the type of workout, core temperature and diet. The core body temperature can also contribute to the weight loss, thanks to intense exercise that raises the body temperature.

    So, how long should sleeping after workout last?

    How long you should sleep after workout depends on many factors. The first factor is the type of workout. If you have been exposed to great physical effort for an hour and a half, you definitely need more time to recover than if you did light jog for half an hour. 

    An image of a woman taking a post workout nap.

    Then it depends on the number of workouts per week, because the more frequent the workouts, the more fatigue accumulates. It also depends on your fitness level, diet and age. Post-workout naps should not last longer than an hour to avoid deep sleep, except in special cases.

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