T Nation

Sleep Quality after Workout


#1

Hey Coach,

Do you see difference in your sleep quality after the days you workout? Since I turned 24, the mornings after tough workouts, no matter how much I sleep during that night, is tired & groggy. Have you or any of your athletes personally experiences anything like this? It’s becoming so significant I cant almost do mental work in the mornings

Best


#2

At what time do you train?


#3

Usually afternoon or nighttime, do you think that would make a difference? I’ve always been training around that time though, didn’t notice this phenomenon previous years.


#4

I too suffer from this although I’m much older than you, turning 37 soon.
I’ve never been a morning person and feel very groggy and brain foggy when I’ve had tough workouts and have had to reduce my volume by quite a bit although i can’t say it has negatively affected my strength.
I train in the evenings and sleep around 2 hours after i finish my workout.


#5

It makes a HUGE difference. Ideally the best time to train is in the morning. Otherwise it keeps cortisol elevated in the evening/night which is the opposite of a healthy hormonal cycle. You want cortisol to be LOW when you go to sleep. Training elevates cortisol and if you are having a stressful day on top of that that then you are a cortisol producing machine at night which makes it almost impossible to recover properly.

THEN it also becomes hard to have a cortisol elevation in the morning: you NEED to have a higher cortisol level in the morning… in fact when someone wakes up without an alarm clock, it is due to the cortisol peak.

So if you are having a really hard time getting started in the morning that is an indication that your cortisol rhythm is screwed up.

Why didn’t you have the problem when you were younger? I see some possible reasons:

  1. Your testosterone levels were higher when you were young which can prevent some of the negative impact of cortisol. And since testosterone and cortisol are fabricated from the same “material” (pregnenolone) then if you produce more testosterone, you will produce less cortisol.

  2. You might have had the same overall daily stress level when you were younger. Lower stress levels = less cortisol production.


#6

Yeah that is the most unnatural way to plan your training. It goes against what a normal hormonal/circadian rhythm should be and will wreak havoc on your progress and well being.

Of course changing to a morning routine will take some time to get adjusted to, I used to train in the afternoon but now I’m training at 6:30am,… took me a few months to get comfortable with it, but now I’m feeling a lot better.


#7

Well, this thread has been an eye-opener for me.

I also train around 6-8pm, eat directly after training, then head to bed. My morning mental capacity and overall mood/energy has definitely taken a bit of a toll recently. I might have to try training in the morning, I’d never considered cortisol as the culprit. This has likely been amplified a bit as I’ve been working in a calorie deficit and my work has been a high stressor for me lately (although only 1 more week until our big deadline is reached and things will normalize once again).Thanks for the info CT.


#8

No question there. Cortisol is a fragile hormone that it easy to get out of wack


#9

It’s amazing how one can know about this stuff be aware of cortisol but yet completely fail to understand why they feel crap waking up etc
It’s almost as though we become blind to the very thing that we know can cause us an issue once we’ve got that issue!

I guess I never truly appreciated how much of an impact cortisol could have on the body.


#10

It’s not just cortisol, it’s all the interaction that can come with it. The bigger one being, of course, testosterone (or estrogen for women). Cortisol, testosterone and estrogen are built from the same mother hormone (pregnenolone). The more cortisol you must pump out, the less raw material you have left to produce testosterone and over time it leads to low testosterone levels with the problems that you can imagine.

Constantly elevated cortisol levels also diminish the T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) into T3 (the active thyroid hormone) which can decrease metabolic rate (as well as protein synthesis). Furthermore low levels of T3 (which would occur when the conversion of T4 to T3 are diminished) lead to a drop in energy.

Lastly cortisol increases the level of the antidiuretic hormone which increases water retention. This can make you look fatter but if you are prone to high blood pressure it can also contribute to increase blood pressure which can also make you feel more tired.


#11

Is it better to go for strength, low rep style training and not go to fail if your having a late session?


#12

CT this has plafued me before as well. For me, I really enjoy the first 3-6 hours of day (intermittent fasting & black cofee) for mental clarity.

However if I train in morning and take carbs/protein (or even bcaa), that fast is broken and i end up needing to get several meals throughtout the day. I also lose the mental “intensity” of being fasted and not having worked out yet (whole day super productive).

Of course if i train later in the day, then i get the aforementioned issues in this thread.

On a side note, can one increase progenolone naturally? Does that aid in natural hormonal output?


#13

There are pregnenolone cream. And in some case of adrenal burnout with DHEA deficiency it might help. But really, pregnenolone can be converted to many many hormones:

  • Progesterone
  • DHEA
  • Androstenedione
  • Androstenediol
  • Testosterone
  • Cortisol
  • Corticosterone
  • Estrogen (estriol, estradiol, estrone)
  • Aldosterone

So simply elevating pregnenolone would not be enough to increase testosterone production. If you increase pregnenolone it simply gives the body more raw material but it can use that raw material to produce any of the hormones above.

As for testosterone, pregnenolone converts via…

Pregnenolone --) 17 hydroxypregnenolone --) DHEA --) Androstenedione --) Testosterone

We know that androstenedione is converted to testosterone at a rate of about 5% (so 100mg of andro would yield about a 5mg increase in testo). The further down the chain you do, the less direct increase in T you will have.

Let’s say that you want to elevate T by taking pregnenolone. In reality you might increase estrogen, cortisol or aldosterone


#14

wow incredible. and throw on training & diet factors (also lifestyle), it really all seems quite complicated (“isolating”/improving hormones safely without backfire)


#15

That’s why those who play “amateur chemist” with their body pretty much end up doing more harm than good. There are a lot more interaction than what most people think