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Daytime naps improve afternoon power and perceptual measures in elite rugby union athletes – A randomized cross-over trial
Abstract: Daytime napping are used by elite athletes in both training and match-day settings. Currently, there are limited interventional studies on the efficacy of napping on physical performance in elite team-sport athletes. Therefore, the objective was to investigate the effect of a daytime nap (<1 h) on afternoon performance of peak power, reaction time, subjective wellness, and aerobic performance in professional rugby union athletes. A randomised cross-over design was carried out amongst 15 professional rugby union athletes. Athletes performed nap (NAP) and no nap (CON) conditions on two occasions, separated by one week. Baseline testing of reaction time, subjective wellness, and 6-s peak power test on a cycle ergometer was completed in the morning, followed by 2 x 45-minute training sessions, after which athletes completed the NAP or CON condition at 1200h. Following the nap period, baseline measures were retested in addition to a 30-minute fixed intensity interval cycle and a 4-minute maximal effort cycling test. A significant group x time interaction was determined for 6-s peak power output (+157.6 W, p<0.01, d=1.53), perceived fatigue (-0.2 AU, p=0.01, d=0.37) and muscle soreness (-0.1 AU, p=0.04, d=0.75) in favor of the NAP condition. A significantly lower perceived exertion rating (-1.2 AU, p<0.01, d=1.72) was recorded for the fixed intensity session in favour of NAP. This study highlights that utilizing daytime naps between training sessions on the same day improved afternoon peak power and lower perceptions of fatigue, soreness, and exertion during afternoon training in professional rugby union athletes.