Take a nap—it doesn’t mean you’re wimping out

Take a nap-it doesn’t mean you’re wimping out

Being busy is overrated. Society expects that we need to be busy, and always on the go. Well, some days you just need a nap, and it doesn’t mean that you are lazy or have a lack of ambition. It’s a very important aspect of many cultures, yet in the U.S., it’s a badge of honor. As a result, we are becoming more and more sleep deprived.

A short nap of 20-30 minutes can help improve your energy, alertness and performance. A study on NASA military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness 100 percent. Think of a nap as a mini-vacation, not a guilty pleasure only for young children and the elderly. Elite athletes can benefit from them, as new studies show that naps contribute to better performance results.

There have been a substantial number of studies on the benefits of short naps outside the sports sphere, and in an athlete’s daily life, they can help recovery when he or she is faced with multiple training sessions in one day.

An athlete in an individual sport is more affected by poor sleep than are athletes in team sports, and studies have looked at how circadian rhythms affect performance. This new study recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise examined the effects of a post-lunch short nap, after a full night sleep, on the athlete’s alertness and fatigue, involving 13 male karate athletes. In experimental sessions, athletes were randomly assigned to experience both nap and no-nap conditions. The Karate-Specific Test, one of the protocols used, was composed of two attacks toward a body opponent bag. Every punch and kick had to be made with the maximum power possible. Reaction times, mental rotation tests and tests involving online visual stimulus, as well as jump squats, were measured.

Karate encompasses strength, power, speed and cognitive skills needed to offend and defend against opponents. These athletes need lightning-fast decision-making and fast-reaction skills, and lack of sleep can be a major problem if they are in a competition, where they have to compete in several matches on the same day.

The 30-minute nap came out as a winner in counteracting a bad night’s sleep, resulting in significant improvements in alertness, fatigue and better overall performances. There was also noticeable improvement in response time, which can give an elite athlete an edge in high-level sports. An added benefit is that for a professional athlete, a nap has no chance of violating doping regulations.

Get the most benefit of a nap by doing it right. Twenty minutes is ideal to enhance motor skills and attention, and the best time to do so is between 1 and 3 p.m. Ninety minutes of napping offers rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, which helps make new connections in the brain and helps solve creative problems. If you take a nap too late in the day, it could affect your sleep. Also, if you are prone to sleep inertia, which is a feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come with waking up from a deep sleep, it’s best to wait a few minutes to a half hour before doing something, well, like a karate match.

https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_501c5e32-3b9b-11e9-bdf4-e34818028c07.html

Meal Timing, Protein and Conditioning

If you compete or enjoy working out, eating right helps you train harder, delays the onset of muscle fatigue, and aids in recovery from a workout.

If you compete or simply enjoy working out, eating right helps you train harder, delays the onset of muscle fatigue and aids in recovering from a workout. Eating proper foods doesn’t have to be complicated or rigid, and certainly no one approach fits everyone. Your body needs carbohydrates, protein, fat, minerals and fluid to fuel it for exercise. Eating right helps your body adapt to workouts, improves body composition and strength, enhances concentration, helps maintain a healthy immune system and reduces the chance of injury. The timing of meals and snacks is equally important. At a recent American College of Sports Medicine meeting, Nanna Meyer, Ph.D., and dietician at the University of Colorado and United States Olympic Committee at Colorado Springs, told an audience, “Don’t bother lifting if you haven’t eaten breakfast.” Current research recommends Greek yogurt with some fruit and nuts, oatmeal cooked with milk, cereals or a carbohydrate sports bar pre-exercise, with an emphasis on protein, like yogurt, chocolate milk, recovery mix or a bar containing some protein as soon as possible after training.

Are you getting enough protein?

Recently, research has demonstrated that having some protein before and immediately post-workout results in greater strength gains and muscle repair. Nancy Rodriguez, Ph.D., R.D., director of sports nutrition programs at the University of Connecticut, notes that increased protein, greater than the dietary allowance but within the recommended range, helps reduce body fat, maintains muscle mass and increases satiety—all positive weight management outcomes. Post-workout, research suggests about 15-25 grams of protein, found in milk (eight grams of protein per cup), Greek yogurt (15-20 grams of protein per cup) or a carbohydrate/protein mix, for example.

We also snack a lot less if we get enough protein. According to Dr. Alison Gosby, in the online journal PLoSONE, “Humans have a particularly strong appetite for protein, and when the proportion of protein in the diet is low, this appetite can drive excess energy intake. Our findings have considerable implications for bodyweight management in the current nutritional environment, where foods rich in fat and carbohydrate are cheap, palatable and available to an extent unprecedented in our history.”

It’s always a good idea to talk to a registered dietician for your specific needs. For example, the Soya Granules by Fearn is recommended for those who are lactose-intolerant. Remember also that 15 minutes to an hour after a hard workout lasting more than an hour, nutrient-rich snacks help replace carbohydrates, sodium and potassium. Less time than that, if you’re watching your weight, water is a good choice. Whether you’re training hard, or just enjoy being active, make good food choices for optimal energy and improved performance.

Connie Aronson is an American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness specialist at the YMCA in Ketchum.