What's your favorite time to hit the gym? Most people prefer to start their day with a pump of energy. Others like to drop in on their way back home. No matter when you go, there's one thing you can't avoid - feeling sleepy right after the session. But is it good to sleep after gym?
The answer depends on whom you ask. Some will tell you that you need to keep moving around to continue burning calories. Others say that taking a nap can actually be helpful for your body with burning fat. No wonder you're confused about what to do.
Let's try to find out a little about why we feel sleepy after our training sessions, and what you can do about it.
Feeling Sleepy after Working Out - Is this Normal?
It's common for us to feel tired and sleepy after working out. During the first few hours after a workout session, holding your head up is, in itself, a big struggle. But is feeling so exhausted after working out something you need to worry about?
Thankfully, post-workout drowsiness is not a cause for concern at all. What could be abnormal about feeling worn out after exerting yourself? Your energy levels are likely to dip, especially after an intense workout session, whether you perform cardio exercises or resistance training.
In fact, this sleepiness and tiredness are natural reactions to your physical activities that cause your muscles to contract repeatedly, using a chemical called ATP that acts as a source of energy for your cells. Soon, ATP levels drop as your workout duration increases, thus decreasing the ability of your muscles to function, leaving you tired. It's called peripheral fatigue.
Another reason behind your tiredness is the Central Nervous System that keeps shooting signals and activates your muscles. However, this process, too, slows down as you continue to exercise. Besides, working out raises some neurotransmitters, and your nervous system's capacity to boost muscles. As a result, you feel fatigued and want to take a nap!
Here's what happens to your body while working out:
Dehydration due to perspiration
Raised body temperature
Increased heart rate
Decreased production of melatonin
Stimulation of endocrine and central nervous systems
Don't forget that you probably also consume a lot of caffeine-infused energy drinks before and during the workout. This caffeine will be metabolized during your workout, leaving you tired at the end of the workout session.
Other Factors that Affect Post-Exercise Energy Levels
You see, post-workout fatigue is absolutely normal. However, every person is built differently, and your energy level may depend on a number of other factors, such as:
- Intensity and duration of weight training
- Type of exercise
- Level of fitness
- Diet and hydration
- Medical conditions
- Sleep pattern
If none of these is the problem, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Have you been pushing yourself a little too hard? Did you get enough sleep last night? Did you have a tiring day? But don't be too alarmed. Tweaking your workout slightly might help.
Is it Good to Sleep after Gym - Pros and Cons
Now let's address the real question here: is it a good idea to sleep after working out? Well, it has both advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at each.
Experts say that sleeping after exercising is not bad at all. In fact, it has the following advantages:
a) Muscle Growth and Recovery
Sleeping is the perfect time for your muscles to repair after going through "wear and tear" during the workout session. As it undergoes a surge of growth hormones released by the pituitary gland, it helps build muscle tissue.
b) Improved Physical and Mental Functions:
If you're sleepy, you will not be able to work properly. You'll feel physical fatigue, weakness, or ache. It may also harm your immune system or inhibit muscle recovery. But sleeping after a workout can prevent all these problems.
c) Higher Alertness
It's not news that your cognitive functions will slow down if you are sleep deprived. A post-workout nap can prevent you from feeling groggy all day, especially if you work out early in the morning. It can make you alert and energetic.
Some health experts argue against sleeping after the gym due to the following disadvantages:
a) Unsatisfying Nap:
While taking a nap after working out is tempting, it won't be fulfilling. After exercising, you'll be stewing in endorphins, and your body temperature will be high. So, it will be difficult for your body and mind to shut down and rest.
b) Groggy Feeling:
Since your post-workout nap will not let you have a complete rest, you'll feel drowsy. Besides, if your nap lasts long enough to become borderline sleep, you'll feel disoriented and irritated, trying to come out of that sleepiness.
c) Poor Nighttime Sleep:
Catching an untimely nap might disturb your regular sleeping pattern. A post-workout nap might affect your nighttime sleep and make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night. Naps can also make your sleep disorders worse.
Tips for Napping after Gym
If you're too exhausted, here are a few tips to follow for napping:
- Stretch First: This will alleviate muscle fatigue and prevent stiffness while sleeping.
- Drink Water: Drink lots of water while working out and rehydrate before and after the nap.
- Calm Ambiance: To rest properly and cool your body, lower the temperature of the room.
- Quiet, Dark Room: The more peaceful your space is, the easier it will be for you to rest.
Remember that your nap time cannot replace your nighttime sleep. The aim is to reduce the feeling of exhaustion and feel a surge of energy.
You have to remember that you need to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep as an adult. You may feel the urge to take a nap after working out. A power nap of 10-20 minutes after your it may not decrease your sleep debt by a lot, but you will get a jolt of energy and alertness.
But make sure to nap in a dark and quiet room and don't extend the nap beyond 30 minutes, or you'll end up feeling groggy and cranky all day, and the nap will do absolutely no good. In general, working out helps you lose weight. So, plan your workout, naps, and sleep time as your schedule permits.
While some people will warn you against taking a post-workout nap to prevent your metabolism from slowing down, others say that you not only burn more fat and even repair muscles while sleeping. Ultimately, you need to listen to what your body is crying out for.