The Grapplers Ultimate Guide To Sleep, Naps & How It Affects Sports Performance

The Grapplers Ultimate Guide To Sleep, Naps & How It Affects Sports Performance

What are the benefits of taking naps?

There are many benefits of napping such as recovery, relaxation, reduced fatigue, increased alertness, improved mood and performance as well as quicker reaction time and better memory. Further, some research suggests regular nappers may glean more benefits from napping (Evans et al, 1977) because mostly only habitual nappers describe naps as restorative!

Now while some nap as replacement for sleep loss, or in preparation for sleep loss others simply nap for enjoyment. Circadian rhythms reflect 24h cycles of increases and decreases in a range of biological and physiological functions including temperature, heart rate and hormone secretion. In turn there are varying levels of cognitive functioning. One research proved that to nap was more productive during the 3pm to 5pm window while it was unwelcome from 7pm to 9pm. Naitoh even named this the forbidden zone for sleep and stressed that naps taken at the wrong time could lead to prolonged sleep intertia.

How long should we nap?

While 10, 20 and 30 minute naps produce improvements in cognitive performance and alertness, 5 minute nap did not produce such effects (Tietzel and Lack, 2002). And interestingly only a 10 minute nap didn’t produce grogginess and sleep intertia. Longer naps systematically produced much higher levels of grogginess. And here’s where it gets tricky: impairment due to sleep inertia is actually worse than that from sleep deprivation so you would be actively doing yourself a disservice.

Typically, sleep inertia impairs sensory motor and cognitive tasks and is characterized by confusion and disorientation and it impairs accuracy more than speed (Ferrara et al, 2000). So much for taking that long nap before Brazilian jiu-jitsu practice!




Is there a downside to napping?

Napping is present in 85% of mammals but it isn’t for everyone. There are some serious drawbacks to consider. Besides sleep inertia side-effects there’s also the possibility to exaggerate your nighttime sleep problems. If you’re experiencing insomnia or poor sleep quality it might not be the best idea to be taking naps because you could make the situation even worse. A 2005 research by Bliwise and Swan also suggest you might be having an issue with depression because frequent nap takers (i.e. more than once a week) were characterized with higher depression scores.

Of course feeling tired and taking naps even when you get sufficient sleep might also be a sign or anemia or diabetes so it might not be an issue of its own. One study even indicated that napping is associated with increased risk of heart failure but only in people already at risk.

Sleep and Sports

While sleep has been identified as an important aspect affecting performance current interventions are based largely on clinical experience and evidence derived from research in other fields. One attempt to research sleep in athletes is the Pittsburgh sleep quality Index. A global score of 5 or higher is considered to indicate poor sleep quality.

A different research tried to identify preferred biorhythm for athletes and found that only 10 percent of them were the extreme evening type, meaning they were the type that’s actually suited better going to sleep at odd hours of the night. While about 30% athletes were the early morning type.

How does napping effect training recovery?

Sleeping is a huge necessity when subjecting your body to intense exercise. It’s hard to say what’s the ideal amount of sleep because it might be dependent on one too many variables. The usual amount of sleep a young adult needs is seven to eight hours for optimal performance. However this figure does not include serious training and as such the need for extra sleep might soon arise after taking up bjj.

How do you know if your body is rested?

Resting heart rate is a surprisingly simple measurement that is quite meaningful for everyone regardless of their level of athletic involvement. While there is no normal resting heart rate for humans you can write yours down and become aware of usual numbers for you.

This is something reigning bantamweight female UFC champion, Miesha Tate discussed during her latest visit on the Joe Rogan podcast. Recovery is very important and as such it’s important to monitor your body and realize what kind of activity or (intensity) would be best for the day in question. Under resting condition the average adult should have around 70 beats per minute (bpm) and the heart rate tends to decrease with age.

Majority of people who are passionate about sports don’t appreciate the simplicity of the fact that you don’t get fitter during the actual exercise – instead you get fitter recovering from it. So when you’re monitoring your normal heart rate upon waking up it will often vary slightly. However it should be within 3 or 4 beats on consecutive days. Studies show that an elevation of just 5 bpm in resting heart rate can increase the risk of mortality by 17 percent.

To summarize

Napping can be a very productive use of your time that will leave you refreshed and functioning better but only if you don’t let yourself get carried away and keep it short. That being said, it’s not an adequate way to replace sleep that matches your biorhythm so this type of sleep often results in various, above mentioned impairments. The amount of sleep an average adult needs is 7 to 8 hours a day but if you notice movement in your resting heart rate upon waking up- it might be a day to take it easy or take a restorative nap later. Further, typical time for a productive quick nap is from 3h to 5 pm while most sleep researchers would consider naps taken from 7pm to 9pm unproductive or detrimental to nightly sleep quality.

Monitor your heart rate and be aware of the signals your body is sending you because this right there is the key for great athletic performance as well as a long and productive life.

Master the OMOPLATA–the submission that can be your new favorite position.

  • You might not look like Clark Gracie, but your omoplatas will be the best-looking part of your game.
  • SWEEP them when they’re defending the SUBMISSION and SUBMIT them when they’re defending the SWEEP.