Nap Before or After Workout?

A good nap can fully restore your physical performance and guarantee improved alertness, better reaction time, and put you in a better mood. “Taking a nap is a great way to boost an athlete's performance without getting tired” – says Dr. Amy Bender from the University of Calgary. However, when should we throw a nap into our schedule – before or after doing physical activity?

Should you nap before or after a workout?

To ensure that the timing of your naps is right, they should happen at a relatively early time of day and shouldn’t last too long. That said, a nap before a workout is usually a better option

In fact, the only time a post-workout nap is advisable is if you workout early in the morning and still have a full day ahead of you. 

If you workout in the afternoon, a post-workout nap may make it difficult to fall asleep at night, which is something we should avoid at all costs. 

Healthy nap hygiene

Despite all the benefits we can draw from them, naps can disrupt our circadian rhythm and therefore affect our night sleep. Everyone, especially athletes, should avoid this. So, how can you incorporate a nap and still get a good night’s sleep? 

First, make sure there is enough time between your nap and bedtime. Late afternoon and evening naps can not only make it harder for you to have trouble falling asleep, but they may also make it harder for you to enter the REM phase of sleep. Understandably, you may want to lie down to get back to life quickly after a hard workout, but if you’re going to finish all your tasks for the day soon anyway, it’s not worth it. 

Second, make sure your naps are not too long. The most optimal power nap length is about 20 minutes. According to sleep experts, this is the most optimal length of time to enjoy all the benefits of a nap and avoid experiencing sleep inertia or risk messing up our night’s sleep. However, in some cases, a longer or shorter nap can make sense.

Learn more about your ideal nap in our perfect nap length guide.