Training for any sport or event involves a lot of strenuous exercises, muscle building, and strengthening. Naps don’t really fit in with this mental picture we create.
That was before studies were conducted on the benefits of napping to athletes before or after workouts. Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Harvard Medical School’s research have proven that naps boost athletic performance.
The studies found that naps primarily help improve motor memory and learning – the development of muscular coordination. Naps also improve performance, mood, and alertness among athletes.
Many athletes take naps before a game, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant swear to their benefits.
HOW DO NAPS BENEFIT YOU BEFORE OR AFTER WORKOUTS?
Naps, taken after workouts, give the body time to retain motor memory and repair body tissue. Typically occurring during REM sleep, a pre-game nap should be well-timed to prevent sleep inertia. If naps exceed 20 – 30 minutes, they begin sleep cycles that could adversely affect the performance of an athlete.
Naps Boost Performance In Athletes
A study published by the Frontiers in Physiology monitored the performance of seventeen males aged 22 years old. They allowed them varied naps times after exercises, ranging between 25, 35, and 45 minutes. They noted that participants in the study performed better in running distances of 5 meters. Their results showed the 45-minute siesta was the most effective in improving performance.
Similar studies by Harvard Medical School and Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic showed that 40-minute pregame naps resulted in a 46% increase in performance. The duration can vary, any longer than 40 minutes might leave them disoriented due to sleep inertia and ruin their performance. A 20-minute nap can have the same effect as a 40-minute nap.
Naps Boost Alertness
Athletes still need to get their 9 hours of sleep at night, without which their performance would suffer.
Exercise induces stress, resulting in tears in the muscles, these are in turn, repaired during sleep. The process repeats the next day.
When athletes get the prescribed amount of rest, they can stay alert during games. Napping before performing helps them improve alertness and overall performance. It is a growing practice among top athletes with several NBA professionals confessing to napping before big games. Olympic Athletes like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps both recommend that sleep be given importance to improve alertness and performance.
Naps Reduce Stress
Which is very important for athletes considering their profession. Too much mental and physical stress could lead to damaging effects on their health, career, and performance.
Naps are a way to de-stress during high-stress moments. It allows the brain to reset its thoughts and leaves the mind fresh.
Physically, it offers them the opportunity for rest and recovery. A very important part of training for any sport.
HOW DO YOU TAKE A NAP CORRECTLY?
The duration of the nap is vital, 20-minute naps are suitable when time is limited. 40-minute naps are equally useful. However, any period of sleep longer than that might disrupt a sleep cycle that has begun. Athletes might wake up feeling worse than before and their performance might be negatively affected.
Lighting and environment are equally important factors. The body responds to light cues, and it would be hard to sleep in the middle of the day if the light is bright. Try to find someplace with low light.
Naps can be taken both before or after workouts, depending on the purpose. Adding to the necessity of sleep to the rest and recovery process.
You may also like this: Power Napping Guide For Mind And Body Benefits