I’ve churned through over 150,000 emails, social media comments and messages, and blog comments in the last 6 years.
And that means I’ve fielded a ton of questions.
As you can imagine, some questions pop up more often than others, and I thought it might be helpful to take a little time every month to choose a few and record and share my answers.
So, in this round, I answer the following question:
- How beneficial are naps to body composition and performance?
If you have a question you’d like me to answer, leave a comment below or if you want a faster response, send an email to [email protected].
Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps!
3:08 – Can taking naps help you gain muscle and strength faster? Can taking naps help you lose fat faster? Can taking naps improve your performance in the gym?
4:17 – If you don’t sleep enough, can naps help?
6:17 – Do naps improve physical and mental performance?
9:42 – Napping tips
10:45 – Should you nap after 3pm?
Mentioned on the Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Muscle For Life. I’m your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today. And hey, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast, and if you want to make sure that you don’t miss out on future episodes, and if you want to help me do better with the show, subscribe to the podcast in whatever app you are listening in.
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Find their way to it. Okie dokey. So in this episode, I am going to be answering a question that I got either on social media or email. I get a lot of questions every day, and it is regarding naps, how beneficial are naps to body composition and performance. And if you want to ask me questions, you can reach out to me on Instagram.
You can find me at Muscle for Life Fitness or you can shoot me an email mike Muscle for life.com. Do keep in mind, I get a lot of communication every day, so you may have to wait a week or so for an answer, but you will hear back and if your question is one that many other people are asking, or if it just strikes my fancy, I may choose to answer it here on the podcast as.
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legion.com/audible and sign up for your account. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you wanna learn time proven and evidence based strategies for losing fat, building muscle and getting healthy, and strategies that work for anyone and everyone, regardless of age or circumstances.
Please do consider picking up one of my best selling books, Bigger, Leaner, Stronger for Men, Thinner, Leaner, Stronger for Women, and the Shredded Chef for my favorite fitness friendly recipe. All right, so let’s talk about naps. Can taking naps help you gain muscle and strength faster? Can it help you perform better in your workouts?
Can it help you lose fat faster? What is certain is getting enough sleep can do all of those things. Research shows that the right sleep schedule can certainly improve your workout performance. It can improve your workout recovery. It can help you gain muscle and strength faster. It can help you lose fat faster minimally by helping.
Control your appetite and research shows that the minimum amount of sleep required to reap all of those benefits for most people is between seven and nine hours every night. However, studies show that extending that to 10 plus hours per night or per day, and this will bring us into napping, can be even better.
That said, many people find it hard. To get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, let alone 10 plus, for example, I simply cannot sleep for more than seven or seven and a half hours. I just naturally wake up and I am up. So if I were to try to get nine or 10 hours of sleep, I would have to take a nap.
Now, would it be worth it for me to do that? What might I gain by taking regular naps? Let’s look at some research. In a recent study conducted by scientists at Fox University, the researchers wanted to understand the effect of different nap times on cognitive and physical performance and subjective ratings of muscle soreness, mood fatigue, stress, and sleep quality.
And 20 physically active male participants, and they gave them the opportunity to nap for three different amounts of time, 25, 35 or 45 minutes. And then there was a control group who didn’t take naps, and each nap time was separated by 72 hours during which. Time participants did not take naps, and then the nap times were completed in a random order.
And although the participants were given ideal sleeping conditions to take their naps in, whether they actually slept or how long or how well they slept, wasn’t measured only the amount of time in bed. So what were the results of this study? The researchers found that the longer the participants were allowed to nap, so up to 45 minutes, the better they performed on various physical and mental tests and tasks, like a jump test, a digit cancellation.
Task, which helps measure things like focus and how fast you can process information. Subjective ratings of mood, and a questionnaire that was used to gauge stress, sleep quality, fatigue, and muscle soreness on a scale from one to seven. So again, improvements across the board with the greatest improvements seen in the 45 minute NAP group, which to repeat myself, was a nap opportunity.
So not 45 minutes of sleep, but just a 45 minute nap. And some people obviously slept more and some people slept less during that 45 minute period depending on how long it took them to fall asleep. And the same thing goes for the other groups. There are several other studies that back these findings up as well.
I’ve found four others, for example, that showed that naps improved physical and cognitive performance and reduced levels of subjective fatigue and stress. And while I did also find a couple of studies that showed no such effects, the weight of the evidence based on my review of the research is that nap.
Do improve physical and mental performance and reduce fatigue and stress in many people. So let’s now apply this to working out again. Let’s look at it through the lens of body composition. So gaining muscle, losing fat, and then also workout performance and what that means for gaining muscle and gaining strength.
So there’s no evidence that naps are going to make you instantly stronger. So let’s say you work out at 4:00 PM. You are probably not going to perform immediately better in that workout if you slept enough the night before and took a nap at, let’s say 12 or 1:00 PM But something you may immediately notice is if you take a nap, the workout may feel less difficult, it may lower the perceived exertion, the perceived difficulty.
If you were to rate the. Effort it’s taking to do your workout. And that can help improve performance because that can help you feel like you can work harder in your workout. A nap can also slightly improve your physical performance, but the studies have mostly looked at performance on jump tests, and that’s not going to necessarily translate well into your weightlifting, into your strength training.
So again, I wouldn’t expect an I. Boost in absolute strength, for example, or absolute muscle endurance, but there might be a slight effect. If you take a nap before you train, you may notice that your focus is higher, that you have more attentional energy to give to your workout, and that can positively influence your workout.
If you think over some of your best workouts in the last month or two or three, they probably included a high level of focus where you were really doing what you were doing, when you were doing it, where you were fully focused on your training. And you felt that mind muscle connection and your mind wasn’t wandering all over the place.
You weren’t just going through the motions. So then you can get outta the gym and back into life and back into dealing with work and problems and relationships and so on. So that’s another way that naps can immediately enhance your training. And a final way is just lowering stress levels and lowering fatigue levels, which is conducive to better workouts.
It doesn’t guarantee better workouts depending on how you respond to stress and fatigue, but in most of us, it is going to help us get a little bit more out of. Workouts. So if I have convinced you to include some napping in your regimen, at least here and there, for example, you may not want to nap every day, but just the days where you’re going to be doing some heavy squatting or deadlifting or bench pressing or overhead pressing, maybe three days per week, for example.
If you are now thinking about doing this, I have a few tips for you. One is to avoid napping for too long because research shows that if you nap for more than 45 minutes, and again, this means nap opportunity, not sleeping 45 minutes, But if you get into bed with a timer of let’s say 60 or 90 minutes.
That is going to increase the chances that you fall into deep sleep. And the more deep sleep you get during the day, the harder it is going to be to sleep at night. And you don’t want to rob Peter to pay Paul. You don’t want to take longer more. Restful naps in the day that then make it harder to sleep at night.
The primary focus should be getting plenty of high quality sleep at night and then supplementing that with a little bit of napping. So set that timer for 30 or 45 minutes, and again, the study I mentioned earlier showed that 45 minutes was generally better than 30 minutes. Another tip is to not nap after 3:00 PM because if you take a.
Later in the afternoon, or even in the beginning of the evening, it can make it more difficult to sleep at night. So the best time to nap is right around lunchtime, 12 or 1:00 PM. Also, don’t nap right before you are going to do a workout or a cognitively demanding task. Don’t go from getting out of. Into your workout or your deep work session because research shows that even 30 minute naps often require a period of time afterward for our body and our brain to wake up and be ready for a high level of exertion, whether it’s physical exertion or cognitive exertion.
And also if you are having trouble getting into the. Of napping. It can help to avoid caffeine or at least have your caffeine earlier in the morning. Give yourself at least 4, 5, 6 hours in between the first dose of caffeine in your nap. Make sure that your room is dark and quiet and cold. Those are your baseline conditions that are conducive to good sleep.
It also can help to find ways to reduce stress levels before you. To nap so you could take a hot bath. It doesn’t have to be long. I know that even though many of us now are working at home and we’ve saved time that we normally would waste commuting and commiserating around the water cooler, we don’t necessarily have the time to, let’s say, take a 45 minute nap with a 45 minute preparatory routine.
But a short, maybe five or 10 minute hot bath, or a little bit of reading, or a little bit of listening to calming music or breathing techniques can help you relax and then actually get to sleep. What you don’t wanna do is get into bed and have your mind racing with thoughts about work and everything going.
you need to be able to get to sleep even if it’s not for that long. Even if you are, let’s say, napping for 45 minutes, that’s your nap opportunity and you have that timer set and maybe it takes 10 or 15 minutes to fall asleep and you’re sleeping for 30 ish minutes. When I take a nap, I always wake up before the alarm goes off, and so I maybe sleep a total of 20 or 25 minutes.
It really makes a difference. I do notice all of the benefits that I’ve been sharing with you in this podcast. I don’t make time to take many naps. Usually I do it only if I didn’t sleep well the night before and I. Don’t feel like slogging through the day. Ironically, this is one of those days I just didn’t sleep well last night.
I woke up several times, had trouble staying asleep, and it’s not a huge deal. I can just do what I need to do and exert that additional effort that it takes to do everything that I need to. But if my schedule permits and I don’t have too many calls or interviews or other things that I have to do in addition to the daily urgent and important tasks that I want to get done, I will sneak away for 30 or 45 minutes to take a nap.
And again, I notice a big difference. I can go from feeling pretty tired and feeling. Noticeably drawn towards sleep, and in 30 to 45 minutes nap opportunity, wake up feeling refreshed, wake up feeling as if I slept the night before. I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.
And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share.
Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future. I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.