Sleep in endurance sports – Part 4: How does a power nap work?

Today is part four of our sleep series. We will explain how a power nap works. If you have any questions, write to us and we will answer them in our next podcast!

How do I do a power nap?

  1. Put away your mobile phone 
  2. Switch off disturbing noises through relaxed music 
  3. Darken the room 
  4. The nap should be between 15 and 30 minutes long (2)
  5. Coffee-nap: Drink a coffee before you want to do a power nap
  6. Avoids deep sleep phases (N3 and REM) (7)

How does a power nap work?

  1. Reduction of sleep deprivation (6)
  2. Improvement of acute performance in athletes who sleep <7h at night (1,2, 6)
  3. Increase of attention, alertness and concentration (4) 
  4. Stress relief
  5. Reduced susceptibility to infections (2)
  6. A power nap 3 times a week reduces the risk of a heart attack by 37% (5)

Study situation

The scientific evidence of the effectiveness of power naps is currently insufficiently researched. Studies often speak of a positive or no effect at all. 

  • Study by Waterhouse et al. 2007 shows an improvement of the sprint performance after a 30 min nap (8)
  • REGman findings: slight increase in performance in a high-intensity sprint test after a 30 min nap (9)


  1. Blanchfield, A. W., Lewis-Jones, T. M., Wignall, J. R., Roberts, J. B., & Oliver, S. J. (2018). The influence of an afternoon nap on the endurance performance of trained runners. European journal of sport science, 18(9), 1177-1184.
  2. Fullagar, Duffield, Skorski, Coutts, Julian, Meyer IJSPP 2015
  3. Samuels, 2019 Sport Innovation Summit – reported by. A. Hutchinson, Outside Magazine
  4. Davies, D. J., Graham, K. S., & Chow, C. M. (2010). The effect of prior endurance training on nap sleep patterns. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 5(1), 87-97.
  5. Buch Schlafgut, Univ. Prof. Dr. Manfred Walzl, 2005,S90ff, Verlagshaus der Ärzte, Wien 2005
  6. Boukhris, O., et al., (2019). Nap opportunity during the daytime affects performance and perceived exertion in 5-m shuttle run test. Frontiers in physiology, 10, 779.
  7. Milner, C. E., & Cote, K. A. (2009). Benefits of napping in healthy adults: impact of nap length, time of day, age, and experience with napping. Journal of sleep research, 18(2), 272-281.
  8. Waterhouse, J., Atkinson, G., Edwards, B., & Reilly, T. (2007). The role of a short post-lunch nap in improving cognitive, motor, and sprint performance in participants with partial sleep deprivation. Journal of sports sciences, 25(14), 1557-1566.
  9. Meyer, T., Ferrauti, A., Kellmann, M., & Pfeiffer, M. (2016). Regenerationsmanagement im Spitzensport: REGman-Ergebnisse und Handlungsempfehlungen. Sportverlag Strauß.

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