You are getting very sleepy
May 14, 2014 6:08 AM   Subscribe

I used to get more energy from working out, but now I have to go home and sleep all day after I go to the gym. Why is this happening to me?!

I worked out regularly (3-4 times a week for about an hour) for a couple of years, but during this past terrible winter I pretty much stopped exercising. For the past few weeks, I've been back at the gym. I go in the morning, work out for about an hour (similar exercises to what I did before, but at a a lower intensity because now I'm out of shape), and then...basically want to lie on the couch and nap the rest of the day, and can't work up the energy to do anything else. This has the extra-special bonus problem of making it hard for me to fall asleep at night, which is a problem I haven't had in years.

What could be causing this? In the past I always found that working out in the morning meant that I had extra energy for the day, but now I crash SUPER hard. I do have asthma and a thyroid thing, but both are controlled & treated, and there haven't been any changes AFAIK. What can I try? For obvious reasons I'd rather not give up exercising, and I'd also rather not sleep all day.
posted by goodbyewaffles to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
How much protein are you eating? Are you eating enough in general?
posted by Specklet at 6:12 AM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

My first question was also going to be how you're eating, not just how much but what, and also whether you've tried scaling it back to half an hour and seeing how you feel with a week or so of that.
posted by Sequence at 6:14 AM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I feel like I eat a lot, or at least frequently. I'm a vegetarian but that's always been true - I eat a lot of beans/lentils, tempeh, eggs, and (let's be honest) cheese, which are protein-y things. I don't eat amazingly well or anything, but my diet hasn't changed since the last time I went to the gym regularly.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:16 AM on May 14, 2014

I'd cut the exercise time and build it up slowly.
posted by devnull at 6:22 AM on May 14, 2014

Have you tried consuming some sort of sports drink either during, or right after, your workout?
posted by DrGail at 6:23 AM on May 14, 2014

Yeah, you're probably just running low blood sugar due to possibly insufficient intake beforehand and overtraining for what your body's currently ready for. An hour at a time is a lot when you're starting from nothing, even at lower intensity. Fuel up a bit more, scale back so that you're easing into things instead of trying to jump back to where you were before.
posted by Sequence at 6:31 AM on May 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

What are you eating before and after your workout? Are you staying hydrated? You may be feeling zonked because you're not fuelling yourself up pre and post workout.

For me (I am not an expert but I work out a lot) I do much better before a workout if I get some quickly assimilated carbs, protein and fat into me. This usually looks like a piece of fruit (a banana, usually) and a handful of nuts. Afterwards I really need a strong dose of protein. Those dickwads with proteins shakers at the gym? They're not so crazy. I've been smashing a bit of hemp protein in water after my workouts lately and it definitely helps with recovery.

I'd also look at your nutrition in general. Are you having loads of vegetables, a decent amount of protein and some fat with every meal? If not then find a way to incorporate them with every meal.

Ironically, I find the best way to recover from a really hard work out is... another workout, albeit a not so hard one. Are you demolished after your run? Force yourself off the couch and walk around the block a few times the next day.

Also, when are you working out? I personally prefer to go to the gym at night, so I'm nicely toasted when I go to bed. It helps me sleep better. If I go in the morning before work I find I'm in a pleasant fog all day.
posted by nerdfish at 6:39 AM on May 14, 2014

What's your ethnicity?

Age and gender especially play a significant role in exercise reactions. As an example, a woman going from 28 to 29+ can experience lower energy levels if diet remains unchanged. There are changes taking place with your body chemistry. Your body needs supplements, and ethnicity has an impact. Have an MD do a physical.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:49 AM on May 14, 2014

Get your iron levels checked.

Personally, I don't believe you need to consume vitamin/mineral/protein supplements if your diet is adequate, but a lot of people's isn't. (I work out hard 3-4 times a week and don't take any supplements, but I'm pretty careful about what I eat, and also lucky to be healthy overall.)

A while back when I wasn't handling my workouts, I had my GP test my iron levels, and they were really low. A good iron + Vit C (which helps your body absorb the iron) supplement helped enormously.
posted by Salamander at 7:09 AM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing easing up a bit while you work your way back into things. When I work out longer or more intensely than I'm used to, even though I'll feel totally fine during the workout, I'll be zonked for the rest of the day.

You might want to temporarily lighten your workouts during the week and then have one longer one on a weekend morning/afternoon, if you can afford to take it easy for the rest of that day.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:22 AM on May 14, 2014

When that happened to me in the past it was because I ate nothing beforehand (so starting "fasting", because it was first thing in the morning) and then worked out too hard and too long, adding weightlifting to my usual cardio.

So be sure you have a little bit of food beforehand - even just half a banana makes a huge difference. Cut back to 45 for now. Eat again within a half hour of working out (I used to just have a chocolate milk or almond milk ready to drink afterward).

Once you've trained into it, you'll be quickly able to work up to an hour again.
posted by ldthomps at 8:17 AM on May 14, 2014

I was going to ask about asthma, but you covered that. Pay attention to your breathing. Now that you are out of shape, you are breathing differently when you work out. If you are not getting the good, deep breathes, that could be causing your fatigue. That's what happens to me, anyway. On high asthma days, if I so much as go for a walk, I have to have a nap. And that is with medication and without wheezing- my breathes are just too shallow to give me what I need.

Some yoga practices can help with this.

If it isn't your lungs then you may want to check for anemia, which you are at risk for anyway given your thyroid issue and diet.
posted by myselfasme at 8:59 AM on May 14, 2014

When did you last have your thryoid panels done? You might need more meds, you might need less, you might want to add T3 if you don't take it already.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:05 AM on May 14, 2014

What exactly do you eat before you work out, and what exactly are you doing for your workout?

Also, anemia was mentioned, but have you ever had your Vit D tested? I eat a varied diet and lots of it yet still had rickets-level Vit D last year, now I take it regularly.

It's a virtual certainty you aren't eating enough protein.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 12:02 PM on May 14, 2014

That sounds like an uncontrolled over active thyroid. It'll make you feel like death post-exercise. If you already have a thyroid thing, I'd get it checked out and make sure nothing has changed.
posted by fshgrl at 12:05 AM on May 15, 2014

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