Benefits Of Napping
Taking a nap seems to be a very natural thing to want to do. With our current lifestyles, with work, school, and other commitments, we tend to just keep pushing through and never actually stop. The corona virus lock down has given me much more time than I normally have and every day around 12pm-1pm I feel the need to lie down and rest. With time on my hands, I have been. I don’t even really nap for long. It could be 5 minutes up to 30 minutes, but I have noticed just lying down and closing my eyes for a small amount of time refreshes me enough to be more productive in the afternoon than if I just push through.
This is not new information. The Romans napped, countries in the Mediterranean napped, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Isaac Newton napped, bodybuilders have talked about naps and them helping muscle growth for many years, but it is something I have consistently been able to do for a couple of weeks now and I think it is definitely something we should all try to incorporate in some way once our lives return back to being crazy busy again.
The most important thing to remember though is that a nap can’t replace night time sleep. You have to sleep well of a night. There is no compromise.
Athletes need between 8-10 hours of sleep a night but not many of them are getting that amount. Simply by getting more sleep you can enhance your performance by 2-5% from some estimates.
Dr Marc Bubbs highlights some good stats on the negative impacts lack of sleep can have in his book Peak. Lack of sleep reduces your ability to tolerate pain, lowering it by 10%. If you don’t get 8 hours of sleep a night you are 1.7 times more likely to get injured than some who does get 8 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep also increases the chance of you getting sick. Less than 7 hours of sleep and you are 3 times more likely to get sick than someone sleeping 7 hours, if you sleep less than 6 hours then it was 4.5 times as likely you would get sick.
Plus, lack of sleep can increase body fat levels, lower your testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone levels, can increase insulin and cortisol levels, lead to poor memory, and increase inflammation, so that is why quality sleep is a non-negotiable.
Naps are used as a bit of an energy boost, a reset, or to help ADD to your daily sleep time. Not replace it.
Increasing your mental alertness
Speed up motor performance
Improve your accuracy
Make better decisions
Improve your stamina
Improve your mood
Help your memory
The time you wake up of a morning will determine when the best time to take a nap is for you. There is a lot of science that goes into this which take into account all the stages of sleep, but there are some good general recommendations that are simple to follow. The simplest is when you feel like taking a nap naturally. That is generally between 1 and 3pm for most of us. If you wake up at 5am then it will be closer to 1pm whereas if you wake up later at say 8am, it would be around 2.30pm for example.
You can also time your nap so that you wake up with a more creative mindset or prioritise your memory.
A full sleep cycle last 90 minutes. Many experts suggest that a 90-minute nap is the perfect amount time as you go through a full sleep cycle. If you are an athlete, using a longer nap like this on rest days can really help your recovery.
If you feel groggy when you wake up then you could be waking up in the middle of slow wave sleep, so you may just have to adjust the duration of your nap. Taking a shorter 20-30 minute nap should work well for this.
If you can’t sleep during the day, don’t worry about it. Just lay down, close your eyes, and relax for 20-30 minutes. It will still be of benefit.
Personally, by recovering properly, my strength is improving at a much faster rate then when living my normal routine. Try napping for a few weeks and see how you progress.