Sleep continues to gain momentum as an important component of health and sports performance. In our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics patients often ask us how to improve their sleep quality or quantity. Previous research has shown athletes who sleep the recommended hours per night have better recovery and decreased risk of athletic injuries. Conversely, those who cut sleep show impaired health and decreased mental and physical performance. Prior researchers have shown daytime napping may help improve some of the sleep deficit created by a shortened or poor night’s sleep the night before, but researchers have begun to study the impact of the daytime nap after a full night’s sleep.
A recent review of the literature identified the impact of a daytime nap on subsequent cognitive and physical performance (Mesas et al. Br J Sp Med. 2023). Authors reviewed 22 studies on close to 300 trained athletes and physically active adults. They reported napping after a normal night’s sleep improved both cognitive and physical performance. Naps were all performed after lunch between 1230 and 450pm. On average naps were most frequently taken at 2pm for 30-60 minutes. The greatest effects were found when naps ended at least an hour before cognitive or physical testing.