Working out is good for you- there’s no doubt about that.
But, some people are concerned about the sleep part of it all, including sleeping right after a workout.
So, is it okay to sleep after a workout? Yes, it is okay to sleep after a workout- according to doctors and personal trainers. In fact, it’s VERY GOOD for our bodies to sleep after a workout. It boosts muscle growth, fat loss, and improves energy (remember to eat and drink water before you sleep though!).
And again, emphasis on the eating part. If you sleep after a workout and don’t eat, you can risk muscle loss. During sleep, your body grows the most muscle it can- so it’s a good idea to actually eat a protein shake or a high-protein snack before you go to bed.
Since this can be so complicated- let’s cover this more in-depth.
#1 – It is SAFE To Sleep After a Workout
While we are going to cover the many benefits of sleeping after a workout- let’s cover the actual topic- is it okay to sleep after a workout?
The answer is yes. I think most people are concerned that they will gain weight, lose muscle, or risk doing something else bad. It is perfectly safe to sleep after a workout, in fact- it’s what we’re SUPPOSED to do.
There’s no secret that after a workout and a protein shake- we suddenly get SUPER tired. It’s our body’s way of telling us to sleep! That’s right- your body literally tries to put you to sleep after working out and eating.
That’s personally why I have a hard time working out before college, I just got so tired I would almost fall asleep after the 2 hour lecture! (Well, maybe it wasn’t the workout, perhaps the lecture itself was just so boring …anyways…)
Yes, That’s Right – Our Body WANTS Us To Sleep After a Workout!
Our body has a thing called ‘fight or flight’- I’m sure you’ve heard of it. We also have a thing called ‘rest and digest’. These are operated by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems respectively.
Basically, when you workout and eat, your body kicks into the ‘rest and digest’ mode. This is because it wants to put your body to sleep so it can digest the food and rebuild the muscle you just worked out.
This is an incredibly efficient process from our body that causes a ton of things like muscle growth, fat loss, and more. As a matter of fact, let’s talk about some of those benefits.
#2 – Sleeping After a Workout is The BEST Way To Grow Muscle, Lose Fat, and Stay in Shape
Here are some of the benefits you get right off the bat from sleeping after a workout:
- Boosts muscle growth and helps maintain muscle mass.
- Boosts the removal of body fat.
Regulates hormones in the body
- Especially important in decreasing hormones like Cortisol (the stress hormone) that makes us look bloated or ‘fat’.
- More energy throughout the day.
- Less groggy and tired.
As we can see- sleeping after a workout is actually a really good idea and has a ton of benefits.
So, if you were unsure about it, hopefully, I’ve eased some concerns!
There is a lot to unpack here, so I’ve reached out to many experts in the fitness field and scientific studies to really get to the bottom of this answer.
Let’s get into it.
#3 – Sleeping After A Workout Actually Boosts Muscle Growth- A Lot, Actually
So, this is something a lot of us are trying to hammer into the new generation of people that workout:
Sleep is very important. Stop sleeping so little, sleep more.
I don’t want to sound harsh, but I see a lot of workout pages bragging about only having 5 hours of sleep per night. This is just bad all around.
Sleeping so little boosts fat gain, reduces muscle growth, makes you have less energy, and makes you way hungrier (further causing fat gain!).
While we will cover all of that, right now our focus is the actual muscle growth itself and how it’s related to sleeping after a workout.
Sleeping after a workout actually boosts muscle significantly. A famous saying in the world of working out is, “Your muscles don’t grow in the gym, they grow outside of it”.
What does that mean? Well, it’s saying when you are working out- your muscles aren’t actually growing. They are breaking down. Remember, whenever we workout, our muscles break down, and when we rest and eat- they repair these tears and grow bigger.
Sleep is actually the phase of your body that your muscles grow the MOST. Getting more sleep directly correlates to increased muscle growth.
This is kind of where I mentioned eating earlier. You want to eat some protein before bed so that when you sleep your body has all the tools needed to repair and grow that muscle right away.
Quite literally, more sleep is directly correlated with more muscle growth and fat loss.
Take a look at that graph. When you normally weight train, you’ll average 3 pounds of muscle growth and 2 pounds of fat gain in a normal bulking period.
Now, when you do that with better sleep, that graph shows that most people are building a lot of muscle, and even burning some fat with it.
While the whole argument of burning fat while bulking is a whole ‘nother controversy- the point is, that when you sleep better, you gain more muscle, and put on way less fat.
Don’t Sleep After a Workout Without Eating
So, sleep after a workout is really good. However, sleeping after a workout without eating actually kind of ends up being a big problem- here’s why.
Your body, when you sleep, wants to repair that muscle right away. So, it will do whatever it takes to do so.
Unfortunately, that even means breaking down…other muscles- that is, if you don’t have enough protein in you.
Now, for most people, this isn’t usually an issue. Most of the time our body doesn’t jump to just breaking down muscle unless you are really deficient in protein.
Generally speaking, your body just won’t ‘grow’ any MORE muscle (ie: make you stronger), as it will use the least possible resources to repair that muscle if you don’t have a good protein intake.
Now, in the event you are severely undereating protein- your body WILL break down the muscles. This happened to me, unfortunately, I was eating so little calories and protein trying to lose weight that my body just broke down a ton of muscle instead. Anorexia sucked.
This is obviously, NOT what we want.
We want to look generally speaking- more muscular, less fat, and more toned. This isn’t possible when you aren’t eating enough protein.
Our bodies don’t make sense to “us”- but it makes sense evolution-wise. We used to be animals, and growing a ton of muscle requires a LOT of energy. We used to have to hunt for all of our food, and the more energy we had to burn- the worse. That’s still why it’s hard to lose fat, our body wants to preserve it for an emergency.
When you look at it that way, you’ll understand why your body wants such a surplus of calories and protein to grow and maintain muscle. It makes sense.
Think of your body like your relative who hates spending any money, is always coupon pinching, et cetera. You’re going to have to really convince them to come out of their comfort zone and buy something expensive.
It’s the same thing with your body, it really does ‘nickel and dime’ everything and is really hesitant on “making that expensive purchase”- ie: growing muscle.
Now let’s talk about the muscle growth you get when you eat before you sleep.
Eat Protein Before You Sleep, Let Your Muscles Grow!
So, as we stated earlier- when we sleep that’s when our bodies want to grow muscle the MOST.
Now that we’ve explained why NOT eating before you sleep is a bad idea- let’s circle back to why you should be eating before you sleep.
When you eat protein, it enters your bloodstream. When your body sees an abundance of protein, it immediately uses that to repair muscle.
When we are in our sleep phase- where our body is actively trying to repair muscle, and it sees this surplus- it immediately starts growing our muscles.
Let’s Circle It All Back and Summarize It
Now that we’ve hit quite a few key points, let’s circle it all back and summarize it.
- The more sleep you get, the more muscle growth you get.
- If you eat before you sleep, your body will grow more muscle.
- If we combine the two, we create a recipe for a ton of muscle growth.
Isn’t that neat?
There’s even more to it- let’s talk about fat loss.
#4 – Sleeping After a Workout Boosts Fat Loss
I’ve yet to run into someone that doesn’t want to lose fat. So, I’m sure you’re no different and you want to shred off that fat and gain muscle.
Here’s the thing: sleeping after a workout boosts fat loss.
Cravings Are Reduced, Appetite is Reduced
I think many of us can agree- the actual process of working out and eating right isn’t really the ‘hardest’ part of losing weight. It’s actually fighting those annoying hunger cravings.
I mean, I swear- I can eat super healthy all day, cook all my meals, but for some reason at 2AM my body will be demanding a 3,000 calorie milkshake.
When you sleep after a workout, your cravings are reduced and your appetite is reduced. This works to help you lose weight by literally having you eat less, which directly causes fat loss.
And I think many of us can agree, hunger cravings are the worst- it feels like you can’t focus on anything else. Next time, you might want to just take that nap after your workout and watch it go away.
Your Stress Hormones Are Reduced – Reducing Bloating and Boosting Appearance
Cortisol is the stress hormone that we’ve all heard a ton about.
When cortisol is high in your body, you get that ‘bloated’ feeling and you look ‘puffy’. Honestly, that high cortisol is what really makes us a lot of us feel really ‘fat’.
You know what I mean? You’ve been dieting well, but you have an exam coming up, and the scale says you’ve somehow gained 12 pounds. That’s likely just the cortisol in your body.
Usually, as most of us are used to- a week later and the scale goes to normal, and you look much better after your final exam. Sleeping after a workout helps reduce this annoying hormone.
#5 – Sleeping After a Workout Boosts Energy
If you workout early in the morning before college or work- you may notice that you can get really tired towards the end of your school or workday.
Sleeping after a workout boosts energy, and can seriously make you feel super energized before returning to work or school or whatever.
Along with the tons of endless other benefits, feeling more energized and ready to take on your day is something we can all enjoy.
#6 – Keep in Mind- It Can Be Hard to Fall Asleep After Exercise
While some of us may be tired after exercise, this isn’t always the case.
If you find yourself super awake after a workout, you’re not alone.
Dr.Dave Candy says, “It is okay to sleep after exercise.
Exercise actually does help improve sleep quality.
That being said, it can be difficult to get to sleep immediately after exercising as exercise, in general, is arousing. Exercise releases endorphins, and intense exercise releases adrenaline, which actually makes you more alert and awake.
It is okay to exercise at night shortly before bedtime, and doing so can help you sleep better at night, but it’s a good idea to finish your workout at least an hour before bedtime so that you can get to sleep“.
That’s right. When you workout, you get an adrenaline boost- as you may have guessed, this makes you way more awake.
Now, sometimes when you’ve worked all day, or didn’t get a lot of sleep- this may not be enough and you may still be tired.
Remember, it is completely okay to sleep after a workout. I just wanted to remind you all that if you don’t always feel tired after working out- it’s not a bad thing! In fact, that’s normal.
This whole article we’ve kind of been talking about how our body naturally gets tired after a workout and eating- but if that isn’t the case with you, that’s okay- as Dr.Dave Candy explained earlier.
And it is normal to be tired after exercise every now and then too- even if you normally don’t get tired. After I did my 8 Hour Arm Workout I was super awake and then BOOM just CRASHED- even though I wasn’t really that tired and did the workout pretty early. My body was just exhausted.
(Although, if you are ALWAYS tired after a workout no matter what, you may want to consult with your primary care physician!)
#7 – And Remember – Stay Hydrated
After a workout, we lose a ton of water naturally from sweat and breathing so hard. While we sleep, we also sweat and lose water too.
As Meera Watts, founder of Siddhi Yoga, says: “People should keep in mind that it’s important to hydrate their bodies post-workout, so be sure to drink water before taking a nap”.
Just remember to stay hydrated, drink some water with that high protein snack before you take a nap. Your body and kidneys will thank you for it.
#8 – Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Sleep After Workout For Weight Loss
Yes, sleeping after a workout is really good for weight loss because it reduces cravings, appetite, and boosts fat burning. Just remember to have a low-calorie, high protein snack before you fall asleep.
Is It Good To Sleep After Running in The Morning?
Yes, it is actually very good to sleep after running in the morning. Just remember to eat a small snack before you go to sleep. This will boost muscle growth, fat loss, and help your body’s hormones stay regulated. Plus, it will boost your mood and help you feel more awake.
Can We Sleep After A Morning Walk For Weight Loss?
Yes, you can sleep after a morning walk for weight loss. Just be sure to enjoy a high-protein snack before you sleep to ensure muscle isn’t broken down and you primarily burn fat. Sleeping after a morning walk is a great idea to keep your hormone’s regulated and keep you from feeling tired.
Will I Gain Weight If I Sleep After Exercise?
No, you will not gain weight if you sleep after exercise. In fact, you will probably lose fat and build muscle- which is a good thing. Just make sure you are enjoying a high-protein snack before you go to sleep to boost fat loss and ensure your muscle isn’t broken down.
Sleeping after exercise is a good thing for your hormones and so you feel more energized.
A plus side is, when you sleep after your workout you have fewer stress hormones which typically cause us to look bloated, puffier, or out of shape in general.
Sleeping after you exercise is a good thing for your health.
How Long Should You Wait To Sleep After Working Out?
After working out, you should generally wait 30 minutes to an hour to sleep. This is so you have enough time for your body to switch to its ‘rest and digest’ phase and get rid of hormones that were helping you exercise like epinephrine. This time also allows hormones like melatonin to kick in- which helps you sleep.
#9 – Conclusion of Is It Okay to Sleep After Working Out?
So, yes- it is okay to sleep after working out, in fact, our bodies want us to sometimes! There are many benefits like muscle growth, fat loss, reduced hunger, and more energy.
But, make sure you have a high protein snack and stay hydrated- it’s important for muscle growth.