How Long to Take a Nap Before an Athletic Event?

Sleeping woman

When you're so tired that your eyelids start to feel heavy, sometimes all you need is a good nap. However, if you have a game, match or competition coming up in a few hours, you might be worried that napping could possibly worsen your performance. This doesn't have to be the case, as long as you don't sleep too long.

Power Naps

If you're thinking of napping before your game, consider a power nap rather than anything longer. The National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping for 20 to 30 minutes prior to your event. Some athletes sleep for as long as 90 minutes to three hours, but doing so could actually worsen your performance.

Afternoon Naps

If your game, match or competition is in the afternoon, it's not a bad idea to take a quick pre-event nap. Many men and women feel tired by midafternoon, says Yale University. Hit the sheets for 20 to 30 minutes between 2 and 4 p.m., and you'll end up feeling much better than you would if you slept in for a few extra minutes in the morning.


After waking from a 20- to 30-minute nap, you will feel energized and ready to perform. Golden State Warriors basketball player Stephen Curry says he always feels more prepared for a game after a quick nap. Adequate rest also improves your body's reflexes and naps make you more alert, improving your competitive skills. A quick power nap can also help with relaxation and stress reduction.


There are some disadvantages to pre-game napping. If you sleep for too long -- longer than 30 minutes or so -- you could wake up feeling drowsy and groggy and your performance will suffer. There is a higher chance you will feel this way if you're already dealing with sleep deprivation. This effect can last as long as 30 minutes postnap, so plan accordingly. Finally, if you have a heart condition, naps could increase the risk of heart failure, says the National Sleep Foundation.