Is 15 minutes enough? Are 3 hours too long? What are the tangible benefits of napping? These are just a few of the questions that frequently arise in discussions concerning recovery and training. In this article, neurobiologist and VIS Expert, Dr. Allison Brager joins us to answer our questions about napping and recovery.
What are the benefits of naps?
Naps provide physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits that are an important aspect of recovery. They can provide rejuvenation and an increased attention to detail, as well as help sustain our ability to make better decisions.
“Napping allows for the replenishment of the energy reserves so that we can readily utilize them
mpete or train. Right after a nap we are more emotionally balanced and equipped to think on our feet,” Dr. Brager said.
What is the ideal nap length?
The ideal length of a nap is 20-30 minutes. If naps extend beyond 30 minutes, we are at increased risk for grogginess because we’re interrupting the deepest stage of the sleep cycle.
Can naps compensate for a lack of sleep the night before?
Naps can reduce an overall sleep deficit from the night before if you didn’t get the ideal 8.5-9 hour window of sleep that Dr. Brager suggests for everyone. “The best analogy is to think of it like a bank account,” Dr. Brager says. “We put more sleep credits in, hopefully at night. If you’re not going to get enough sleep at night due to travel or studying, then at least getting some of those credits in the form of a nap can help ensure that you don’t have too much of a deficit.”
““Napping allows for the replenishment of the energy reserves so that we can readily utilize them to compete or train. Right after a nap we are more emotionally balanced and equipped to think on our feet."”
How can we determine our ideal nap time?
Napping is extremely individualized! It is important to schedule your nap around the time you naturally feel sleepy, which occurs in the late afternoon for most. “The reason for that is we have a dip in our alertness signal in the mid afternoon driven by a biological drop in core body temperature,” Dr. Brager explains. “There’s no specific time, it’s different for everyone.
Do you have any other tips for a productive nap or night’s sleep?
Magnesium and ashwagandha are great supplements to promote deeper sleep and reduce cortisol release. Dr. Brager recommends consulting a doctor or nutritionist before including these in our daily routine. Walnuts, kiwis and milk before bed are other dietary options that have been proven to benefit recovery and sleep.
Naps are a beneficial form of recovery that can increase focus, energy, and emotional balance. Sleep is extremely individual and varies greatly depending on your body and activity level. Try taking a 25-30 minute nap the next time you feel a dip in your energy levels and see what benefits occur.