The Benefits of Naps for Improving Athletic Performance

A midday rest period is typical in many countries. But aside from being a cultural tradition, taking a nap can be a great habit for improving your athletic performance. Discover what it has in store for you!
The Benefits of Naps for Improving Athletic Performance

Last update: 25 September, 2019

If you exercise regularly, you have to pay special attention to letting your body rest. Resting is crucial as exercising implies putting your body under a certain amount of stress that needs to be relieved afterward. In the resting process, naps can play a fundamental role. Thus, in today’s article, we want to list off the benefits that naps have for improving athletic performance.

Do naps help your performance?

In Spain and Latin American countries, everyone is familiar with the siesta and the habit of taking a midday rest is spreading to more and more countries. During these moments of rest, people take small naps, usually after lunch, to recharge for the rest of the day. Additionally, naps can also help improve your cognitive functions in the last hours of the day.

To understand why people originally took their break in the middle of the day, you first have to know that in south European and Latin American countries, the biggest meal of the day is generally lunch. On the other hand, countries such as Germany or the UK do things differently: the biggest meals tend to be breakfast.

Additionally, in Spain lunchtime tends to coincide with the hottest hours of the day. That, along with certain physiological factors, explains why we feel sleepy after eating.

Physiology of naps

While naps might be a cultural tradition in cases of countries such as Spain, there are also various physiological reasons why they’re so important for the body:

  • After big meals your body redistributes blood from the nervous system to the digestive system in order to keep it running smoothly and help it absorb nutrients. As a result of the decreased blood flow in the nervous system, you become sleepy.
naps sleepy

  • Adding on to all of these situations, most working people have already been working for some time by midday. A nap will give an energy boost for the rest of the day.

Benefits of naps for athletic performance

More intense workouts

15-minutes to one-hour naps can help you improve your athletic performance regardless of what kind of exercise you partake in.

The rest that naps offer your body will provide you with more energy throughout the rest of the day, as we already mentioned before. As a result, you can tackle harder, intenser workouts. You can even increase these benefits by having a cup of coffee before starting your workout.

Hypertrophy and strength-exercises

Intense workouts offer you many benefits, especially if you do strength-training exercises. In strength-training workouts, increasing the intensity means gaining in strength and hypertrophy.

More hormonal secretion

Generally speaking, increasing the intensity of any workout or sport will produce a higher secretion of growth hormones, which play a large role in physical performance. In addition, another result is improved cortisol levels and an increase in testosterone.

nap hormones

We want to highlight again that your body releases the growth hormone as you sleep. Resting only favors its effects.

Naps for improving athletic performance: more rest, fewer injuries

If you give naps a try, you can provide your body with rest, which is very important, especially if you didn’t sleep for six to eight hours the night beforeSufficient sleep is linked to better muscle and joint recuperation. Thus, sleeping enough can lower the risk of injury.

But overdoing it with your nap isn’t recommendable. Sleeping too much will lead you into a deep sleep. Instead of leaving you fresh, it’ll leave you dazed and might even negatively impact your workout.

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