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Napping After a Workout: 6 Benefits and 3 Drawbacks

Working out boosts our energy and makes our mood better. A lot of studies already proved that working out has many of benefits that are good for our health, especially the heart health. However, some people tend to get extremely tired after a workout to the point they struggle with staying awake. That said, a lot of people wonder whether getting a small shut-eye helps them power up and go on with their day.

That said, we’ll discuss whether napping after a workout is a good or bad habit of yours. This practice confuses a lot of people because many studies showed we shouldn’t workout before sleep even if that makes us tired enough to lay down and sleep.

Exercising and Health

Exercising helps us get a healthy and good-looking body we want, especially in the summer when we go to pool or beach. However, there’s more to working out than just looks. For example, exercising frequently also makes us more relaxed and happier.

Napping After a Workout happier

Image Source: Terry Cralle

A lot of people who exercise to get more muscle mass or lose the extra weight they pumped during the winter months have no clue that they’re also enhancing their mental health.

There are a lot of metabolic processes going on in our body during and post-exercise that can improve our health. For example, working out releases a rush of adrenaline, and also stimulates endorphins to go through our nervous systems.

In addition to self-esteem and happiness, related benefits of exercising, regular working out can help prevent other conditions and health problems. It can:

  • Help prevent heart attack.
  • Helps with Metabolic Syndrome
  • Prevents High blood pressure in the long run.
  • Less chance for getting type 2 diabetes
  • As mentioned above, the mental health benefits and endorphins rush helps with soothing effects of anxiety and depression.
  • According to a study, regular exercise can help prevent some types of cancer like colon and breast cancer.
  • Several studies found that exercising is good for preventing arthritis, another study also gives an insight into how exercising minimizes the effects of rheumatic arthritis and osteoarthritis and keeps the body strong.

Is It Okay to Nap After Workout?

Given the energy we spend while working out, there’s nothing wrong with getting a power nap after exercising. Feeling sleepy after working out isn’t unhealthy and you shouldn’t feel worried.

If you lifted an extra weight or extended the cardio training your body will crave to replenish the energy you lost. Our body will feel extra tired if we choose to work out every day instead of taking a rest every now and then as doctors suggest it.

Not everyone is the same, however. Some people don’t normally feel tired after working out for a long time so it may surprise them, and also scare them if they get exhausted all of a sudden.

If you frequently push yourself to workout and push the limits, you may feel exhausted because you’re simply pushing yourself hard. If you don’t get enough sleep through the night, it’s understandable that you’ll get tired even after the least intensive workouts.

Why Do I Feel Tired After Working Out?

Our body’s natural response is to feel sleepy after a heavy and intense workout.

Working out results in muscular contraction which sees the use of certain chemicals in our body called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that causes the necessary contractions for our muscles. Using ATP, our body is supplied with energy.

However, if the muscles contract and relax for some amount of time, they’ll begin to get tired, contractions will drop and so are ATP levels.

Aside from muscular exhaustion, fatigue also comes from our central nervous system. Our nervous system reacts to us exercising by sending special signals that help our muscles contract. However, as you continue working out, the signal sent by the nervous system grows weaker and is less strong.

Napping After a Workout tired

Image Source: Terry Cralle

We mentioned above how exercising contributes to the hormones of happiness. Well, those same hormones, especially dopamine and serotonin cause the drop of signals in the central nervous system and it’s unable to activate our muscles. That term is also known as central fatigue.

When all these processes combine, you’ll be in a better mood, but also tired, and you’ll need to rest and potentially take a nap.

Benefits And Drawbacks of Napping After a Workout

6 Reasons Why You Should Nap After Working Out

Image Source: Terry Cralle

6 Reasons Why You Should Nap After Working Out?

1. Your Muscles Recover Faster

The first and main good side of napping after a workout is that it speeds up muscle recovery. Muscles get torn and exhausted after intensive workouts, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while or you added some new methods to your already-existent routine.

Taking a power nap results in your pituitary gland that pushes the growth hormone that helps recover muscles. It works by building new tissues on muscles or recovering the one that has been damaged earlier. Muscle recovery doesn’t only occur through napping, long night and restorative sleep are important for proper muscle recovery and it boosts athletic performance.

A study found that sleeping and napping after a workout lead to normalization of changes in our body after workout, preparing it for muscular build and potential weight loss.

Tip: You should try adding a body lotion or essential oils to your nap routine. A quick but soothing massage will help your muscles recover faster, while promoting restorative nap.

2. You Catch Up The Sleep Debt

Sleep debt occurs when we’re sleep deprived or not sleeping enough. Our brain memorizes the quality of our sleep and when we haven’t rested enough, our brain wants to catch up for the loss of sleep during our next sleep cycle.

According to research, naps are a good way of energizing oneself, and catching up on sleep debt, especially for the third-shift workers and those who exercise early in the morning.

People who wake up early to go and exercise or exercise too much get tired faster and their sleep debt also grows. Taking a power nap is an ideal way to recollect the lost sleep debt and prepare for lighter sleep when you go to sleep at night.

Tip: If you workout in the afternoon, you should skip on taking a nap because your sleep debt may be satisfied to a point that you won’t be able to fall asleep later in the evening. It’s important to find balance. It’s better to sleep more, than to nap and go through insomnia later.

3. You’ll Feel More Physically Rested

Given our muscles get torn and tired after a workout, a proper nap will help them recover, but also add up to our physical restfulness. After a workout, a lot of people feel physically exhausted, especially if they went too hard on themselves.

If you exercised early in the morning an efficient nap can help you finish all daily obligations, especially if you have a job to attend and you wore yourself out during the workout.

Tip: Napping before work after an exercise will provide a restoration you need to work effectively and get more done. Try to make a soothing tea like mint or chamomile to help your body relax. Also, take a shower so your muscles relax even more.

4. More Mental Stability

Both exercise and power nap can boost your energy and make you feel less tired mentally. Your overall mood will be improved, you’ll be happier and have an easier time taking onto your day-to-day routine.

Tip: If you’re feeling blue or stressed, you should try more strength-focused exercises to help you throw out the negative energy. Nap is what you later need to boost up the positive energy that fuels you through the day.

5. They Help Lower Blood Pressure

When we exercise, our heart rate jumps up and so does our blood pressure. Taking a short and balancing nap will help control the blood pressure levels and lower them.

Tip: In addition to nap, you should try drinking smoothies and domestic juices instead of extremely caffeinated drinks. Some herbal teas are okay, but drinking coffee may make falling asleep more difficult.

6. You’ll Be Less Prone to Accidents

If you exercise in the morning, or before work, it’d be a wise thing to take a moderate nap to replenish your energy. The reason we recommend is that naps are restorative towards people who drive or operate with heavy machinery that could cause an accident and potentially injure them.

Tip: Regardless of the exercise intensity, if you feel like you’re not sleeping enough, power naps are a must do to be able to function normally through the day. That includes driving too.

Napping After a Workout sleep

Image Source: Terry Cralle

Why You Shouldn’t Nap After Exercise

1. Not Getting Enough Rest

We know this sounds ridiculous, but exercising can at times raise the metabolic rate in our organism and keep us awake. The endorphins in our body that run through exercise keep us happy and energetic. Those same endorphins can raise our body temperature and prevent us from getting enough restful sleep.

Tip: If you feel like you can’t fall asleep or your room isn’t dark or quiet enough, it’s better to focus on doing something else than forcing yourself to fall asleep.

2. Drowsiness

This is a bad trait of naps regardless of whether you worked out before or not. However, some people don’t have a habit of setting alarms and they end up in a nap that lasts between one and two hours.

This can often result in sleep inertia or waking up with a feeling of drowsiness or disorientation, lack of focus, and sleepiness.

Tip: Try not to nap for longer than 30 to 45 minutes. Sleep inertia can last up to 30 minutes, so the 30 minutes longer you slept may cost you when you’re awake.

3. Disrupted Sleep Hygiene

Long naps can decrease sleep debt. However, if the sleep debt drops too much or you take a nap too close to bedtime, you may face difficulties falling back asleep. This often happens to people who suffer from certain sleep disorders. If you often feel like taking naps and you suffer from some sleep disorder, you should talk to your doctor to get the best out of your nap.

Tip: As suggested before, don’t take naps that are 3 to 4 hours away from your bedtime. Otherwise, you may have difficulties sleeping later.

Important Tips to Napping After a Workout

Here are some tips to get the best out of a nap after a workout and neither feel too groggy and drowsy nor not tired enough in the night.

  • Try to take a nap between 1 pm and 3 pm, when according to science our body naturally feels tired.
  • Make sure to stretch your muscles before going to sleep, especially if you forgot to do it post-workout.
  • Don’t forget to drink enough water because your body’s temperature will lower harder if you’re dehydrated. Remember that our core temperature goes down when we sleep.
  • Keep the bedroom cool because after workouts your temperature will be higher and you may have difficulties falling asleep.
  • Make your sleep environment quiet.
  • Make sure that your room is dark, close the shutters, and get dark curtains because a bright room can affect your sleep quality.
  • Don’t swap naps for night sleep. Your naps shouldn’t be too long and most of the restorative sleep you get should be through the night.
  • Don’t consume too much caffeine after the workout. Experts recommend caffeine intake only before working out so that you can remain energized through the workout.
  • You should try to take a warm or hot shower or bath to relax and soothe your muscles after an exhausting workout routine.
  • Try aromatherapy and essential oils. They will help you fall asleep while relieving your muscles too.

Napping After a Workout FAQs

If there are any questions left unanswered after going through this article, we composed a small FAQ section that will help you get all your answers together.

Q: Does Napping After a Workout Help With Weight Loss?

Sleep experts and other scientists still argue whether sleeping after a workout can help with weight loss. It’s well-known that our body burns calories while we sleep. Sleep with good quality can help our metabolism work well, while a good workout can help us lose weight. Researchers are still actively searching for the link between the two, but there’s no doubt that napping after a workout can be good for your health.

Q: Should You Sleep/Nap Right After the Workout?

That’s completely up to you, your body, and your needs.

Try to keep your naps short, anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes so you wouldn’t wake up groggy and even more exhausted than you were when you went to sleep. The reason for this is because, after 30 minutes of sleep, our body has a chance of falling into a deep sleep which, while more restorative, may leave you with headaches and sleepiness if you wake up abruptly from it.

If you workout in the evening it sounds more logical to wait for the bedtime rather than taking a short nap, as you may feel unable to fall asleep later.

Q: Can Nap After Workout Help You Gain Muscles?

We wrote above that nap after a workout can help us restore our muscles after they tear and get exhausted. That also stimulates their growth and takes what you did during the workout into effect.

Still, some researchers believe that having a light meal after an intense workout can also help with muscle recovery and strengthening. For example, sumo wrestlers are athletes with the biggest muscle mass and they have to eat a lot after workouts to maintain that strength.

Q: How Long Should My Nap Last?

The best nap duration should be between 20 and 30 minutes, up to 45 min at max. If you sleep longer that can lead to grogginess.

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