Although you probably didn’t enjoy naps as a child, most adults love to nap whenever they can! Typically, though, you probably can only sneak a nap in on the weekends.
This article, however, will tell you why you might want to consider doing it more often.
We’ll discuss the pros and cons of taking a post-workout nap, followed by some tips about how to get the most benefits from your nap. By the end of the article, you’ll be a napping pro.
If you struggle with insomnia or falling asleep at night, then you’ll want to proceed with caution and definitely speak with a doctor. But for most people, it can’t hurt to sneak in a post-workout nap.
What are the Advantages of a Post-Workout Nap?
Since you’re expending a lot of energy working out—whether you’re lifting weights, running, or swimming—it’s natural for you to feel tired afterward. Thus, your body might naturally tell you that it’s a great time for a nap.
We all know that sleep helps to repair and restore our bones, muscles, and tissues. Obviously, it’s a great idea to get the recovery process started sooner by taking a post-workout nap.
Additionally, taking a post-workout nap can energize you, especially if your workout left you exhausted. If you need to add some pep back into your step, a nap is the way to do it.
Because you’re working your body harder if you consistently work out and run, you’ll need more sleep than the average person. Your body needs that time to recover. Obviously, you need to get plenty of sleep at night, but napping during the day is helpful too.
What are the Disadvantages of a Post-Workout Nap?
First, post-workout naps can be detrimental if they are not done correctly. They could also impact your sleep at night, which is extremely important as an athlete. Because sleeping at night helps you recover the most, you don’t want to have trouble sleeping then.
Additionally, you might feel too awake to nap if you’ve been energized from working out. If that’s the case, it might just be frustrating to try to fall asleep, because your body just isn’t ready. You’d be better off doing another recovery activity like stretching.
Finally, depending on what your work schedule looks like, it can be challenging to fit a nap into your daily schedule, especially if you’re trying to do it the right way so that you can get all the benefits.
How Can I Improve My Post-Workout Naps?
There are a variety of things to keep in mind when planning your post-workout naps. And yes, they should be planned and scheduled just like you do for your workouts. These tips are important because it will help you get the most of your post-workout naps.
If you want to benefit the most from recovery, you need to follow these tips so that your body gets into deeper stages of sleep. That’s where your body rebuilds itself best.
Pick the Right Time of Day
One of the most important components is when you decide to take a nap. The ideal time is between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. We all experience dips in our energy during those hours. We’ve all heard of the post-lunch nap!
Another good thing about that time is that you still have plenty of time before you go to bed, meaning that your nap shouldn’t interfere with sleeping at night. However, if you want to recover from the workout, you’ll need to nap for just 45 to 90 minutes.
This means that you’ll need to be careful with a later time if you’re planning for a 90-minute nap. Waking up at 5:30 p.m. after taking a nap at 4 p.m. might be a little close to your bedtime if you tend to be earl to bed, early to rise.
Focus on the Post-Workout Timing
Another thing to keep in mind is that when we say taking a post-workout nap, we don’t mean that’s the first thing you need to do after you finish a workout. Instead, give your body time to relax after your run before you settle down for a nap.
Make sure that you stretch, hydrate, and get some protein or carbs in your body. Then start thinking about napping. You may also want to take a quick hot shower, which will calm your body down, and change into some comfy clothes before starting your nap.
Pay Attention to the Environment
While this can be hard to do mid-day especially, find a quiet, dark room where you can lie down and fall asleep. If you’re having difficulties, don’t worry. Sometimes it can be helpful to just relax and de-stress from the day.
You might consider wearing earplugs and eyeshades if needed. And if you can’t fall asleep, just tell yourself you are going to lie down quietly for at least 20 minutes. If you haven’t been able to fall asleep by then, you can get up.
But definitely don’t set an alarm for that 20-minute period, and only check your clock when you’re sure that amount of time has passed. More often than not, you’ll be asleep before that time.
Practice Your Breathing
Another tip that is great for falling asleep is focusing on your breathing to relax. You can try the 4-7-8 technique where you breathe in for 4, hold for 7, and breathe out for 8. Other ideas include turning on a white-noise machine or the sound of waves on your phone.
You might also want to try taking deep inhales and exhales and imagine that you’re breathing out a particular color that makes you happy. I always think of yellow or green. Remember, though, that you’ll still get recovery benefits even if you don’t sleep.
Use an Alarm
Because you don’t want to be groggy or have difficulties sleeping well at night, make sure that you don’t oversleep. While you need at least 45 minutes for a recovery nap, set an alarm to avoid sleeping too long.
When you hear that alarm, add some light into the room, especially if your body doesn’t want to get up. Light signals that it’s time to start waking up and continue with your day.
The last thing you want to do is hit the snooze button because it will interfere with your sleep. It’s better to have 45 minutes of great sleep than 90 minutes of hitting the snooze button every nine minutes for the second 45-minute period.
Focus on Sleeping at Night
Finally, while naps can be great if done right, they are not a replacement for nightly sleep. You need to make sure that you’re getting whatever sleep you need at night. Most people say they can function with less than 7 hours, but this is very rare.
It’s important that you don’t let naps interfere with sleeping at night, which is more beneficial, and that you get adequate sleep at night. Sleeping helps immensely with recovery, memory, and reflexes, so you need your 7-9 hours.
Although you might not have enjoyed naps as a child, you almost certainly do as an adult. And now you have an excuse for why you need more of them in your life! Remember, though, to follow all the tips to get the most out of your post-workout naps.
By adding a bit more sleep into your regimen as an athlete, you’ll likely see great results and faster recovery. What runner doesn’t want that?