Have you been waiting for permission to take more naps? Here it is.
The regenerative and restorative power of sleep is well-understood, especially for muscle recovery. While most of us recognize the importance of 7-9 hours of good quality slumber every night, many have dismissed the power of the midday snooze for a quick body boost. Now, an increasing number of professional athletes and doctors alike are hailing the benefits of the ‘power nap’ for improved mental and physical performance.
Here we’ll take a few tips from the pros on the art of good napping and how to maximize its many benefits.
How Does Napping Help Boxing Performance?
Any form of physical training will challenge your body, causing tiredness and muscle strain. Sleep is the best reset, and studies show that even just 10 minutes of sleep can hold many benefits for the body and mind.
Clinical Program Director of Athlete Services at the Centre for Sleep & Human Performance Dr. Amy Bender explains that napping can offer a mood and energy boost while making up for any sleep deficits from the night before. This is especially important for athletes like five-time Muay Thai Champion Rocky Harris. She recently advocated for post-workout naps, taking insight from another notable champ, Lebron James.
Widely considered one of the best basketball players of all time, Lebron James underscored the importance of sleep for recovery in an interview with CBS Sports. In addition to aiming for 8-9 hours every night, Lebron knows a good nap will keep you at the top of your game. “For my 13-year career, I’ve taken a nap, for the most part, every day and for sure on game days,” he explained. “There is no better recovery than sleep.”
Benefits of Napping
Increased Focus - Your body and your brain both get a much-needed break to recoup during a nap, improving mental clarity and memory.
Improved Mood - Napping can relieve stress and boost your mood simply by giving you a brief ‘time out’ from the day.
Sustained Energy - Even a short nap can give you that added energy to make it through that workout or at least the remainder of your daily schedule.
Jumpstart Recovery - Well-timed naps can give your muscles time to begin the healing process that ultimately makes them stronger.
The Art of a Successful Snooze
We’ve all felt the tug of pure exhaustion and opted for a nap that we probably regretted. Maybe we fell asleep awkwardly and woke up achy, felt groggier than recharged, or couldn’t fall back asleep at our normal bedtime. An ill-planned nap can backfire, but there are some ways to ensure your nap is giving you all the benefits and none of the remorse.
The ideal time for a nap is early afternoon, between 1pm and 3pm. Our bodies naturally experience some fatigue during this period of the day, and it is early enough that it isn’t likely to interfere with our normal sleep time.
Determining how long your nap should depend on what you want to get out of it and of course, how much time you can afford during the day. A solid slumber of at least 45 minutes is necessary to jumpstart recovery as it allows time for your body to fall into a deeper sleep. If you only have 20 minutes, it’s still enough for an energy boost to get you through the afternoon.
While finding a cool, dark, quiet sleep sanctuary for your midday nap is ideal, it’s not always possible. If you need to improvise away from the comfort of your own bedroom, consider getting some quality eye shades and earplugs. Make sure to find a comfortable reclined position to take all the stress off your muscles and joints.
If you are training for a fight, big game, or a race, it might help to calendar in your daily naps like Rocky and Lebron. Keeping the same nap time consecutively can help your body develop a natural schedule around restful recovery. During intense training periods, Dr. Bender recommends an extended nap length of around 90 minutes for athletes.
Dreaming of Greatness
Boxing training is all about making healthy lifestyle choices, and sleep is foundational to a fighter’s well-balanced approach. Proper sleep impacts our mental, emotional, and physical health on every level. For athletes, poor sleep can mean the difference between winning and losing – which is why many of them are now incorporating naptime into their training routine.
When you’re training hard, remember that recovery is how your body gets stronger. As Lebron James will attest, there is no better recovery than sleep.
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