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Read this to know why sleeping after a workout is good for you. Learn how much time to put between exercise and bed, plus tips on how to sleep well afterward.
First, we’re giving you a round of applause for putting time and effort into exercising. Beyond the physical benefits, it does your mind a whole lot of good, too.
Yes, it’s key to staying healthy. But it’s only effective when combined with good sleep quality. Deep and restorative shuteye plays a huge role in recovering from exercise.
Apart from what we mentioned above, this article talks about the benefits of sleeping after a workout. And the risks of not getting good shuteye after exercise. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
How long should you wait to sleep after a workout?
There’s no hard-fast rule on how long you should wait before hitting the sack after a workout. But you should be mindful of how much time you put between your workout and going to bed. Wait at least an hour after exercising before getting shuteye.
Also, avoid going all out on exercising before bed. Harvard Health Publishing says to avoid vigorous activity at least an hour before bedtime(1).
Exercise increases your heart rate and body temperature. These make it harder to fall asleep. So put some time between your workout and bed. The longer, the better.
You also run the risk of getting exercise insomnia. The next section explains what it is and how to avoid it.
How to Prevent Insomnia Brought On by Exercise
It’s a condition wherein exercise interferes with sleep. And generally, exercise shouldn’t prevent you from sleeping.
Insomnia may happen if you exercise too close to bedtime. And also how physically fit you are.
For instance, take a more advanced workout that you’ve never done before. And if your current fitness level isn't up to par. This will trigger the release of cortisol, adrenaline and endorphins — all related to stress.
Doing this workout right before bedtime will make it hard to drift off and stay asleep.
Here’s how you can prevent insomnia brought on by exercise:
Time Your Workouts
As we mentioned earlier, don’t exercise right before bedtime. A few hours is good. It'll give your heart rate time to slow. And allow your body to cool down and relax.
Choose Low-Impact Workouts
If you must exercise close to bedtime, choose a low-impact workout. Light stretching and yoga are some examples.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Consider relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. These will help calm your mind and relax your body. Or listen to sleep-inducing music or white noise.
So, now you know not to exercise too soon (and too much) before bedtime. And what to do to avoid insomnia caused by exercise. It’s time to look at how much sleep you need after a workout.
How much sleep do you need after a workout?
Advanced Sleep Medicine Services says top athletes get 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night and nap during the day(2). (Sounds like a clear indicator of how important it is to sleep after a workout, agree?)
On average, a person needs at least 7 to 8 hours a night. But that changes depending on how intense your workout sesh is. Listen to your body. If you’re super tired after a workout, that means you have muscle fatigue.
Get some real rest. And don’t feel guilty for sleeping a bit more than you’re used to.
Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep After Exercising
As promised, here are some tips for getting a good night's sleep after exercising:
Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. A schedule helps your body maintain its internal clock. Doing so makes it easier for you to drift off and get up the next day.
A routine helps establish good sleep quality. This helps you make the most out of your workout sessions. It takes discipline but the results are worth it (We promise!).
Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment
If you want to sleep well, make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet.
Darkness is essential to good sleep quality. It signals your body to start winding down for bed. And it also triggers the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. One solution is to install blackout curtains to block out light.
Or better yet, an excellent sleep mask, which is a cheaper but not any less effective alternative. Check out our collection of sleep masks. Most of them offer a 100% blackout experience.
Now on to keeping your room cool. Too hot and you’re prone to interrupted sleep. The ideal temperature for sleeping is between 60 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Or 16 to 23 degrees Celsius.
The more silent your sleep environment is, the less awakening you have during the night. If you live in a noisy area, consider soundproofing or a comfy pair of earplugs.
Wind Down Before Bed
One secret to sleeping well is a relaxing bedtime routine. This can consist of a warm bath while taking in the scent of aromatherapy. Essential oils like lavender, bergamot and eucalyptus can calm the senses.
Avoid stimulating your mind with your gadgets. (By the way, the blue light from screens can make it hard to fall asleep.) Instead, read a book or do some deep breathing exercises.
Why Sleeping After a Workout is Important
It’s great to reward yourself after a good workout. But if what you had in mind means skipping out on good sleep, think twice.
A good night’s sleep may be the best reward. Sleeping after a workout has a couple of benefits that’ll make it well worth your time. Keep reading to find out what they are.
As we mentioned earlier, sleep is essential for improving athletic performance. WebMD says studies show sleep can increase athletes’ speed. As well as reaction time and accuracy(3).
There’s much to learn from pro athletes when it comes to sleep. Read our article on how sleep habits of pro athletes affect their performance.
To fully experience these benefits, work on getting the sleep that’s of good quality. And this means deep and restful zzzs. Not sleeping long enough and frequent awakenings are characteristics of poor-quality shuteye.
Having difficulty drifting off is also telling of poor sleep. We’ll give you tips on how to sleep well after a workout later on in this article.
While you sleep your body gets to work producing a growth hormone. This is essential for tissue repair and recovery, especially after a tough workout.
This hormone is also responsible for a couple of other exercise gains. Like improved physical performance and muscle development.
So, if you want to reap the benefits of a great sweat session, get some shuteye.
Reduces Muscle Soreness
Muscle soreness after exercising is common. At times inevitable, if you’ve pushed yourself harder than usual. Sleep reduces inflammation of your muscles. And sleep interruptions can cause inflammation, according to Mount Sinai(4).
Getting quality rest helps you heal faster. Meanwhile, being sleep deprived gets in the way of muscle recovery. Focus on sleep so you don’t experience pain the next day or during your next workout session.
If you feel sleepy after exercising, it could mean that you have muscle fatigue. It could impact your productivity if you have a long workday ahead. If you have time, take a nap.
It’s a temporary way to lessen the fatigue — something that a full night’s sleep does better. But, a nap can help you face the rest of the day without falling asleep at your desk.
Risks of Not Sleeping After Workout
Not getting a good night’s sleep after exercising has its risks.
First, it may lead to muscle soreness and inflammation. Second, it might cause fatigue. This in turn may affect routines and productivity. Third, it may also weaken your immune system.
And what does this mean? Apart from the above, lack of sleep can prevent you from achieving fitness goals. Here’s how:
So, you already know that improved athletic performance is a perk of sleeping after a workout. Well, the lack of it results in the complete opposite.
Getting enough sleep is especially important for an athlete’s performance. Without it, they lack energy, get tired faster, and can’t focus as much as they need to.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or not. If you want to excel in any form of exercise, get some decent shuteye.
Increases Risk of Injury
Lack of sleep can increase the risk of injury during exercise.
It’s not only about feeling tired or less coordinated. It’s what’s happening inside your body. Or rather what didn’t happen enough due to lack of sleep.
Not getting enough sleep disrupts protein synthesis. This makes it harder for your muscles to adapt to the exercise. Your immune system is weak from a lack of sleep, too.
On top of that, sleep deprivation impairs muscular recovery. These increase the risk of injury.
Lack of sleep can leave you feeling extra tired. This affects your physical performance, especially if you’re still trying to recover from an intense workout.
This is especially difficult for people who are serious about their fitness goals. Being tired makes it harder to stick to a workout routine. You’re more likely to either skip workouts or cut them short.
Not a good thing if you’re trying to make progress with fitness.
Other Ways to Recover After a Workout
Sleep is one aspect of rest and recovery after exercise. Here are some other ways to recuperate after a workout:
Reach for that water bottle after working out. Water flushes out toxins and waste products from your system. It helps regulate body temperature and maintain pH balance. Plus, it’s also known to help with muscle aches and stiffness.
Stretching after a workout improves flexibility, helps your muscles recover and lessens soreness.
When you stretch, target all major muscle groups. And hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds with 2 to 4 repetitions.
Foam rolling is a form of self-massage. It helps ease muscle soreness, repair your muscles and improves circulation. It’s especially beneficial after a workout.
All you need is a foam roller and enough floor space. Target specific areas of the body, rolling back and forth over the muscles.
But be careful the first time as it can be painful.
Common Questions About Sleeping After a Workout
Here are some common questions that people have about sleeping after exercise:
Is it good to sleep after a workout?
Yes, it is good to sleep after a workout. Sleep is essential for muscle recovery and repair. It reduces muscle soreness and improves performance. Not to mention it’s good for your general health and well-being.
Can a workout make you feel sleepy?
Yes, it’s normal to feel sleepy after exercising. But this usually happens if your workout was high-intensity.
During exercise, your muscles are contracting non-stop. Also, your body produces neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These may lead to muscle and central nervous system fatigue.
Your body uses glucose as a source of energy during exercise. Your glycogen stores are running on empty when you’re done. This can make you feel tired and sleepy.
Exercise can also cause dehydration. Which, in turn, leads to fatigue and sleepiness. So, drink up.
Rest and recovery are key to maximizing the benefits of any form of exercise. Sleeping after a workout plays a critical role in the body's ability to recover. Here are some of its benefits:
Reduced muscle soreness
To sleep well, avoid strenuous workouts before bedtime. And exercise at least an hour before hitting the sack.
Follow the tips in this article so you get a good night's sleep after exercising. And remember that the better your sleep quality, the closer you are to your fitness goals.
Got more tips for sleeping after a workout? Share them with other readers by dropping a comment below.
(1) “Does exercising at night affect sleep?” Harvard Health Publishing, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/does-exercising-at-night-affect-sleep Accessed 29 March 2023.
(2) “How Does Sleep Affect Exercise Recovery?” Advanced Sleep Medicine Services, Inc., www.sleepdr.com/the-sleep-blog/how-does-sleep-affect-exercise-recovery/. Accessed 29 March 2023.
(3) “Can Sleep Improve Your Athletic Performance?” Jumpstart by WebMD, www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/sleep-athletic-performance. Accessed 28 March 2023.
(4) “A Consistent Lack of Sleep Negatively Impacts Immune Stem Cells, Increasing Risk of Inflammatory Disorders and Heart Disease.” Mount Sinai, physicians.mountsinai.org/news/consistent-lack-of-sleep-negatively-impacts-immune-stem-cells-increasing-risk-of-inflammatory-disorders-and-heart-disease. Accessed 29 March 2023.
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