According to research, post-workout naps may help you:
Rest your muscles by giving them uninterrupted recovery time
Boost your energy levels, if your workout makes you extra tired
Jump-start your metabolism and burn fat faster while you sleep
But, post-workout naps may also:
Be difficult to do because exercise increases cortisol. (It's a stress hormone that makes it harder to fall asleep.)
Lead to burning fewer calories. Some experts say your metabolism slows when you stop moving, according to Sleep Advisor(1).
Affect your nighttime sleep. Especially if you already have sleep-related problems like insomnia
Should You Nap After You Exercise?
In short, it depends. There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation.
Find out whether a post-workout nap is likely to help or hinder your workout results below.
When to Consider a Post-Workout Nap
Sleep Report says people who most want to nap after a workout are athletes. Or those training for a marathon. And even those with rigorous exercise routines(2).
It goes without saying that if your exercise is intense, you’re extra tired afterward.
Also, certain types of workouts take a higher-than-average toll on your muscles. These are intense aerobic or anaerobic exercises.
Here are some examples of high-intensity aerobic exercise:
Aerobic sports like soccer
And here are examples of anaerobic exercises:
High-intensity interval training
If any of these sound like your exercise routine, a brief nap will aid you in recovery.
But there's a caveat. If you’re always exhausted after your workouts, it might be a sign you’re pushing yourself too hard. You may need to tone it down a little.
Most people feel more awake and full of energy after working out. Try scaling back the duration or intensity of your routine. Then see if you feel more energized afterward.
When to Skip a Post-Workout Nap
Don't nap after workouts if you struggle with sleep-related problems. (Does insomnia ring a bell?)
If sleep doesn’t come easy, avoid working out too late in the day. Or napping for too long, or too late. Experts recommend no more than 20 to 30 minutes. And no later than the early afternoon.
Napping or working out too close to bedtime is a surefire way to disrupt your sleep. It's better to skip the nap.
Conclusion: The Bottom Line
A nap after a workout likely won’t do you any harm. (There’s no strong evidence one way or the other.)
If you feel too tired to do anything else after your workout, take a nap. Whether it’s running a 5k or chasing your kids around the house. A nap can help you boost your energy levels and mood so you can get the most out of the rest of your day.
But if you aren’t tired, don’t feel obligated to nap. So far, no research says it’s better or worse for you to do so.
Your best bet? Experiment and find out what works for you.
Now we want to hear from you: are you a post-workout napper? Why or why not?
(1) “Should You Sleep After Workout? Our Pros And Cons on This Action." Sleep Advisor, www.sleepadvisor.org/sleep-after-workout/. Last accessed 15 March 2023.
(2) “Is It Good to Nap After a Workout? Is It Bad to Sleep After You Exercise?" Sleep Report, www.sleep.report/nap-after-workout/. Last accessed 15 March 2023.
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