Did you just have a very big meal for lunch? Or maybe you had a quick sandwich because you didn't have time to eat anything else...
A quick look at the benefits of a nap
With all of the hustle and bustle in this day and age, recovery, and more precisely sleep, must become a priority. But it is sometimes difficult to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.
For many people, it has become normal to lack sleep and feel fatigue. Unfortunately, there is a proven link between sleep deprivation and many problems such as weakened immune systems, weight gain, increased risk of stroke, diabetes, decreased libido, and other adverse events.
So, how can we make the most of life without endangering our health? That’s where the nap comes in.
There are two types:
– REM naps : they make up for the hours of sleep you lack. Lasting more than 30 minutes, they cause the body to enter a phase of deep sleep. As a result, they cause drowsiness when you wake up and are not optimal for daytime practice (e.g. at the office).
– Power naps : as the name indicates, they give you an instant energy boost. Because they generally only last 20 minutes, the napper stays in a light sleep cycle, which prevents sleep inertia. This way, you’ll be in great shape as soon as you wake up!
Napping has many benefits for those who know how to nap to their advantage. Naps can help with your productivity, well-being, and even your health.
Napping and health
According to a study by King’s College London, there is a direct link between weight gain and sleep deprivation. Indeed, people who are less attentive to how much they need to sleep would consume up to 385 more calories per day than people who know how to rest. This additional caloric intake combined with the absence of physical activity (due to fatigue) can contribute to weight gain.
Regular napping can also reduce the risk of heart attacks and onset of cardiovascular disease by up to 30%. A nap can reduce stress and tension, which are the most common triggers for heart problems.
Napping and well-being
Thanks to their repairing and restructuring properties, naps are a key factor in preventing depression and burnout.
According to Brice Farault, one of the authors of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, “naps of no longer than 30 minutes reverse the changes observed after sleep loss.” Indeed, this study showed that naps restore hormone and protein levels to combat stress.
It is well known that a stressed or tired brain is rarely productive. Boost your brain and optimize your work capacities by napping regularly.
Nap and sports performance
If naps and sleep in general are essential for optimal cognitive efficiency in everyday life, they are also an athlete’s best friends. As you already know, recovery is a crucial aspect of athletic performance.
Facilitate the learning of new physical abilities
Studies have shown that the practice of short naps would improve the motor memory capacities (memory of gestures and movements). For athletes, this memory is particularly important when it comes to learning new movements or refining your technique.
Reduce the secretion of stress hormones
It has been proven that napping regularly can limit the secretion of stress hormones in athletes. Studies show an increase in the release of cortisol in sleep-deprived subjects. A nap can therefore reverse the immune disturbances caused by sleep deficiency.
Maintain testosterone levels
If naps limit the production of stress hormones, they can also become a major tool to promote muscle anabolism in athletes.
By limiting stress hormone levels (such as cortisol), napping plays an essential role in preserving testosterone levels. Cortisol plays the opposite role for muscle: while the latter promotes muscle anabolism (muscle building), cortisol reduces it!
To summarize, the more stressed you are, the higher your cortisol levels are and therefore the more limited your ability to build muscle will be given your lower testosterone levels.
Do not hesitate to nap regularly to maximize the construction of your muscles and improve your physical performance.