Is Napping After a Workout Good or Bad for You?

nap after a workout

Is it good or bad to take a nap after a workout? The short answer is it depends. Certain conditions may make it necessary for you to catch some quick ZZZs post-exercise, while some situations won’t allow you. It will take a good deal of knowing yourself to decide what’s right for you.

At the same time, you must go back to why you’re working out. Your purpose can help you determine the course to take, whether it’s about squeezing in a nap or eating a specific food. 

Don’t worry if you aren’t sure about your needs and purpose. We’ll walk you through the things to consider in this article. By the end, we hope you’ll be able to tell if napping is good or bad for you. It’s an individual decision to make. It won’t be so tricky if you arm yourself with facts.

Types of Workout

You can classify exercises into three, depending on your priorities. For some people, losing weight is the main driver for hitting the gym in the early morning. Others may want to build muscles or increase flexibility.

Aerobic

Aerobic means “with oxygen” or “in the presence of oxygen.” Aerobic exercises work a couple or more muscles at a steady state for a sustained period. These muscles need more oxygen to produce energy, so the heart and lungs work extra to deliver. This type of workout, then, allows for cardiovascular conditioning, lung strengthening, and muscle blood flow increase. 

Indoor cycling, brisk walking, running, and swimming is some examples of this form of exercise. 

People who want to enhance their overall health and fitness may start with aerobic exercise. With regular performance, they can also achieve weight loss, increased mobility, and improved stamina.

Anaerobic

Anaerobic exercise refers to any strenuous activity done in short bursts. In this case, your muscles get less energy than what they demand to perform. When the body can’t supply enough oxygen to the muscles, it initiates glucose breakdown and uses the resulting lactate to power you through.

One popular example of anaerobic exercise is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Here, you alternate intense workouts with recovery periods. Some experts say this is most efficient for burning calories and increasing metabolism faster, which aid in weight loss.

Weight training, push-ups, lunges, crunches, and sprinting are also common forms of anaerobic exercise.

Flexibility

This kind of exercise involves the lengthening and stretching of muscles. Flexibility exercise may not improve your endurance or strength, but it gives you freedom of movement. With less tightness and pain, you can use your muscles to perform strength and endurance training. Introducing this third type can also add variety to your workout.

Further, it prevents you from experiencing discomfort during extended sitting in confined spaces, such as during a long meeting or flight. 

Some flexibility exercises you can try include yoga, Pilates, and warm-up and cool-down stretching.

Pros of Napping After a Workout

Do you feel sleepy after working out? Your body may be signaling you to snooze a little to replace all the energy you’ve lost. During the restorative stages of sleep, your body starts repairing tissues, bones, and muscles, which allow these parts to recover. This process is particularly important after a strenuous exercise.

However, you need to reach the last phases of non-REM and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep to achieve this result. A full night’s sleep should provide you with this requirement. During the day, you can take power naps—or better yet, coffee naps—to keep awake and alert without compromising your bedtime routine.

Read: What is a Coffee Nap and How Well Does It Work?

Further, napping can aid in processing new learnings during the day. The full benefit may be gained after a good night’s sleep. But a little shut-eye may boost some of the cognitive functions related to learning, as well as memory. Sleep researchers need to delve deeper to understand how effective quick naps are in this department. But there’s no harm if you try it.

Meanwhile, endurance athletes whose daily dose of exercise may differ from those of average people are known to sleep a lot. A two-hour nap is normal, say, for those who run races and marathons. It turns out, extremely strenuous activities produce the same hormones released when you have a cold or illness, called cytokines. 

Cytokines may make you sleep too much, even in the day. It’s different from excessive daytime sleepiness as you’ll feel refreshed with a post-workout nap. Even if you are not an endurance athlete, you may experience this drowsiness if you do intense exercises. In this case, schedule your naps so they won’t interfere with your other daytime activities.

Cons of Napping After a Workout

nap after a workout

We mentioned cytokines above. There are two sides to look at regarding this hormone. If you’re working out hard and feeling the need to doze off afterward, sleeping it off may not be ideal. Tiredness after exercise may be a signal that you’re exerting yourself too much. In this case, you should tone down your activities a little. Go for a mild or moderate exercise, like yoga.

Also, relaxing or sitting after cardio or HIIT can do more good than squeezing in a nap. If you performed an aerobic activity, you might feel a lot of energy afterward. It’s probably because of the raised cortisol levels that activate your nervous system. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and may prevent you from sleeping restfully.

If you work out close to bedtime, drifting off earlier may ruin your sleep schedule. While it’s a quick nap, it may turn into a full sleep or push your sleep onset later than your usual. Keep moving if it’s only past sundown, or choose another restorative activity. You’ll burn more calories and fat if you don’t succumb to drowsiness, which can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Is It Ideal to Work Out?

Most experts agree that exercising earlier in the day can do more for your body, including your sleep quality. Working out can raise your body temperature, which can then boost your energy levels. You can maximize these effects by breaking a sweat anytime between early morning and early afternoon. 

In the evening, your body cools down, and your muscles feel more tired, creating the perfect lead-up to a good night’s sleep. 

On the other hand, some gentle exercises, such as yoga, can aid in falling asleep. In this case, you can perform asanas right before drifting off. This advice is not definitive. So treat it on a per-case basis. Some people with insomnia may benefit from this activity, but others may not experience relief for their situation.

Will You Lose Weight When You Sleep After A Workout?

In the cons section, we said that continuing to move post-workout can aid in weight loss. Proponents of this side have theories on how napping can make you burn calories or fatless. On the other hand, some studies claim the opposite: napping or sleeping can help you burn more. So, which one do you follow?

To determine what is good for you, it’s best to factor the effect of napping on metabolism. Exercising builds muscle mass, more of which your body’s metabolism needs to function well. Metabolism is responsible for burning calories and fat.

We already established how aerobic and anaerobic exercise can improve your chances of losing weight. But will staying awake or napping afterward boost them further? According to a few studies, your body may burn more fat while you’re snoozing. Some even say it can go twice as fast. It’s more efficient during this time because it’s focusing energy on this function. 

The other stand is also based on studies. Advocates on this end believe that staying active after a workout can increase your capacity for weight loss. You keep moving, you burn more calories and fat. Complement it with regularly sleeping well at night to achieve the maximum result. 

If you’re aiming to lose weight, try either option and log your observations. Give each path about a month. Then, analyze and decide which one works better for you. 

Can I Work Out Close to Bedtime?

Can you squeeze in a workout only before bedtime? Are you battling insomnia? It turns out you can sleep better if you exercise near your sleeping hours. But if you have insomnia, you may want to try out mild workouts, such as yoga or running. Start small and evaluate the effects later.

Conclusion

Taking a nap after a workout is neither good or bad. Each person has to come up with their own conclusion. You have to start from a neutral place and consider the factors that apply to your situation. If you have an existing serious condition, consult your healthcare professional. 

If you’re concerned about losing weight, you may want to stay active after a mild or an intensive workout. That’s unless you’re practicing yoga or a similar exercise to help you fall asleep fast. In any case, you should not be snoozing after sundown or close to bedtime if you still have to wake up afterward. 

After weighing the pros and cons, will you incorporate napping into your post-workout routine? Feel free to tell us in the comments.

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