European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 305–315 | Cite as

A 20-min nap in athletes changes subsequent sleep architecture but does not alter physical performances after normal sleep or 5-h phase-advance conditions

  • Elisabeth PetitEmail author
  • Fabienne Mougin
  • Hubert Bourdin
  • Grégory Tio
  • Emmanuel Haffen
Original Article



The aim of the study was to examine the effects of a post-prandial 20 min nap on a short-term physical exercise and subsequent sleep in athletes keeping their usual sleep schedules and in 5-h phase-advance condition.


Sixteen healthy young male athletes (age 22.2 ± 1.7 years, non-habitual nappers) participated in the study. After a baseline 8-h time in bed in normal and 5-h advanced sleep schedules, a standardized morning and lunch in a laboratory environment, subjects underwent either a nap (20 min of sleep elapsed from 3 epochs of stage 1 or 1 epoch of stage 2), or a rest without sleep by lying in a bed, between 13:00 and 14:00 hours in non-shifted condition or 08:00 and 09:00 hours in shifted condition, after which anaerobic exercises were performed twice 2 h apart. Core body temperature was recorded throughout the study period.


The nap extended sleep onset latency from 6.72 ± 3.83 to 11.84 ± 13.44 min, after shifted condition but did not modify sleep architecture of the post-trial night among athletes, whether shifted or not. Moreover, napping did not improve physical performance but it delayed acrophase and batyphase of core body temperature rhythm parameters.


Napping showed no reliable benefit on short-term performances of athletes exercising at local time or after a simulated jet lag.


Simulated jet lag Nap Sleep Exercise Core body temperature 



American Academy of Sleep Medicine


Core body temperature




Mean power


Peak power

% N1

Percentage in sleep stage 1

% N2

Percentage in sleep stage 2

% N3

Percentage in sleep stage 3


Percentage in rapid eye movement




Post-tests night 1


Post-tests night 2


Post-tests night with phase advance 1


Post-tests night with phase advance 2


Sleep efficiency


Sleep onset latency


Total sleep time


Total time in stage 1


Total time in stage 2


Total time in stage 3


Total time in stage REM



The authors are grateful to the athletes who participated in this study. We also thank Gaëlle Brunotte for editorial assistance.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

The experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed.


  1. Asaoka S, Fukuda K, Murphy TI, Abe T, Inoue Y (2012) The effects of a nighttime nap on the error-monitoring functions during extended wakefulness. Sleep 35(6):871–878PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bar-Or O (1987) The Wingate anaerobic test. An update on methodology, reliability and validity. Sports Med (Auckland, NZ) 4(6):381–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Belenky G, Wesensten NJ, Thorne DR, Thomas ML, Sing HC, Redmond DP, Russo MB, Balkin TJ (2003) Patterns of performance degradation and restoration during sleep restriction and subsequent recovery: a sleep dose-response study. J Sleep Res 12(1):1–12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Borbely AA (1982) A two process model of sleep regulation. Hum Neurobiol 1(3):195–204PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Brooks A, Lack L (2006) A brief afternoon nap following nocturnal sleep restriction: which nap duration is most recuperative? Sleep 29(6):831–840PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Debarnot U, Castellani E, Valenza G, Sebastiani L, Guillot A (2011) Daytime naps improve motor imagery learning. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 11(4):541–550PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dijk DJ, Duffy JF, Silva EJ, Shanahan TL, Boivin DB, Czeisler CA (2012) Amplitude reduction and phase shifts of melatonin, cortisol and other circadian rhythms after a gradual advance of sleep and light exposure in humans. PLoS One 7(2):e30037. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030037 PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dinges DF, Broughton RJ (1989) Sleep and alertness: chronobiological, behavioral, and medical aspects of napping. Raven Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Dinges DF, Orne MT, Whitehouse WG, Orne EC (1987) Temporal placement of a nap for alertness: contributions of circadian phase and prior wakefulness. Sleep 10(4):313–329PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Garcia D (2010) Robust smoothing of gridded data in one and higher dimensions with missing values. Comput Stat Data Anal 54(2010):1167–1178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Groeger JA, Lo JC, Burns CG, Dijk DJ (2011) Effects of sleep inertia after daytime naps vary with executive load and time of day. Behav Neurosci 125(2):252–260PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hayashi M, Watanabe M, Hori T (1999) The effects of a 20 min nap in the mid-afternoon on mood, performance and EEG activity. Clin Neurophysiol 110(2):272–279PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hayashi M, Motoyoshi N, Hori T (2005) Recuperative power of a short daytime nap with or without stage 2 sleep. Sleep 28(7):829–836PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Horne JA, Ostberg O (1976) A self-assessment questionnaire to determine morningness-eveningness in human circadian rhythms. Int J Chronobiol 4(2):97–110PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Iber C, Ancoli-Israel S, Chesson AL Jr, SF Q (2007) The AASM manual for the scoring of sleep and associated events: rules, terminology, and technical specification, 1st edn. American Academy of Sleep Medicine, WestchesterGoogle Scholar
  16. Khayam SA (2003) The discrete cosine transform (DCT): Theory and Application. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  17. Krauchi K, Knoblauch V, Wirz-Justice A, Cajochen C (2006) Challenging the sleep homeostat does not influence the thermoregulatory system in men: evidence from a nap vs. sleep-deprivation study. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 290(4):R1052–R1061. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00381.2005 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lavie P, Zvuluni A (1992) The 24-hour sleep propensity function: experimental bases for somnotypology. Psychophysiology 29(5):566–575PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lemmer B, Kern RI, Nold G, Lohrer H (2002) Jet lag in athletes after eastward and westward time-zone transition. Chronobiol Int 19(4):743–764PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McDevitt EA, Alaynick WA, Mednick SC (2012) The effect of nap frequency on daytime sleep architecture. Physiol Behav 107(1):40–44PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Milner CE, Cote KA (2009) Benefits of napping in healthy adults: impact of nap length, time of day, age, and experience with napping. J Sleep Res 18(2):272–281PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Milner CE, Cote KA (2008) A dose-response investigation of the benefits of napping in healthy young, middle-aged and older adults. Sleep Biol Rhythm 6(1):2–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Milner CE, Fogel SM, Cote KA (2006) Habitual napping moderates motor performance improvements following a short daytime nap. Biol Psychol 73(2):141–156PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Morris C, Atkinson G, Drust B, Marrin K, Gregson W (2009) Human core temperature responses during exercise and subsequent recovery: an important interaction between diurnal variation and measurement site. Chronobiol Int 26(3):560–575PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mulrine HM, Signal TL, Berg MJ, Gander PH (2012) Post-sleep inertia performance benefits of longer naps in simulated nightwork and extended operations. Chronobiol Int 29(9):1249–1257. doi: 10.3109/07420528.2012.719957 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Naitoh P (1981) Circadian cycles and restorative power of naps. In: Johnson et al. (eds) Biological rhythms: sleep and shift works. Spectrum publications, New York, pp 553–580Google Scholar
  27. Nelson W, Tong YL, Lee JK, Halberg F (1979) Methods for Cosinor-rhythmometry. Chronobiologia 6(4):305–323PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Reyes S, Algarin C, Bunout D, Peirano P (2013) Sleep/wake patterns and physical performance in older adults. Aging Clin Exp Res 25(2):175–181PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Samuels CH (2012) Jet lag and travel fatigue: a comprehensive management plan for sport medicine physicians and high-performance support teams. Clin J Sport Med 22(3):268–273PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schweitzer PK, Randazzo AC, Stone K, Erman M, Walsh JK (2006) Laboratory and field studies of naps and caffeine as practical countermeasures for sleep-wake problems associated with night work. Sleep 29(1):39–50PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Tietzel AJ, Lack LC (2002) The recuperative value of brief and ultra-brief naps on alertness and cognitive performance. J Sleep Res 11(3):213–218PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 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. J Sports Sci 25(14):1557–1566PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth Petit
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Fabienne Mougin
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hubert Bourdin
    • 2
    • 5
  • Grégory Tio
    • 6
    • 7
  • Emmanuel Haffen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.University of Franche-ComteBesançonFrance
  2. 2.EA 481, FED 4234BesançonFrance
  3. 3.UPFR SportsBesançonFrance
  4. 4.EA3920 and Exercise Performance Health Innovation PlatformBesançonFrance
  5. 5.CHRU, Sleep Disorder UnitBesançonFrance
  6. 6.CHRU, CIC-IT 808 INSERMBesançonFrance
  7. 7.CHRU, Clinical PsychiatryBesançonFrance

Personalised recommendations