A Guide to Napping and Avoiding Post-Run Sleepiness for Frequent Runners

If you're sleepy after exercise — especially after running — then getting the right amount of rest and relaxation is critical. Recuperating allows your muscles to recover and your body to re-energize. Whether a little bit of sleep after a run is beneficial is questionable, but if it makes you feel rejuvenated, then why not give it a try?

Napping can help restore energy after a run. (Image: baona/iStock/GettyImages)

But if this is not an option, the important thing is to allow enough time between runs for your body to completely recover. If you feel sluggish after a run, it's best to listen to your body and get some sleep if you can.

When to Nap After Workout

If you decide to take a nap after your workout, rehydrate and stretch your muscles first. Without stretching and proper hydration, your muscles could begin to cramp as you lie still during your nap. If you feel your muscles twitching as you begin to rest, drink plenty of fluids and shake out your muscles.

Avoid napping for more than an hour, unless you ran very early in the morning and interrupted your normal sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should sleep for seven to nine hours per night, while teenagers should sleep for 8 1/2 to about nine hours per night.

Scheduling Your Runs

If you tend to become tired regularly after a run and have a difficult time dealing with the fatigue, you should take measures to schedule your runs. If you always want to sleep after running, then going for a run immediately before work or school might not be the best idea since the fatigue can affect your performance on the job or in the classroom.

If you don't feel tired after running in the morning, schedule your run for either early in the morning, at a time that would allow you to go back to sleep after you're done, or during a time that allows you to complete your run and nap after workout sessions for 30 minutes to an hour.

Running Before Bedtime

Scheduling a run right before bedtime is not ideal. Aerobic exercise raises your core body temperature, which makes it more difficult for your body to sleep through the night.

Not until your core temperature begins to lower back to its normal range is your body truly ready for sleep, both mentally and physically. If you do run in the evenings, try to finish at least two hours before you plan on going to bed.

Avoiding Sleepiness After a Run

If you wish to counter sleep after a running, take a cold shower or soak your feet in ice water. This can be especially refreshing during warmer months. The cold water can invigorate your system and keep it from crashing.

Ensure that you eat plenty of healthful foods after a run to replenish your carbohydrate levels, as low sugar levels can also lead to feeling fatigued and sleepy after exercise.

Finally, consider the possibility that you are running too much, both in distance per run and in the number of runs you perform during the week. Try cutting down to see whether your energy levels improve after a run.

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