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Is daytime napping an effective strategy to improve sport-related cognitive and physical performance and reduce fatigue? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
  1. Arthur Eumann Mesas1,2,
  2. Sergio Núñez de Arenas-Arroyo1,
  3. Vicente Martinez-Vizcaino1,3,
  4. Miriam Garrido-Miguel1,4,
  5. Ruben Fernández-Rodríguez1,
  6. Bruno Bizzozero-Peroni1,5,
  7. Ana I Torres-Costoso1,6
  1. 1Health and Social Research Center, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha - Campus de Cuenca, Cuenca, Spain
  2. 2Postgraduate Program in Public Health, Universidade Estadual de Londrina, Londrina, Brazil
  3. 3Department of Medical Sciences, Universidad Autónoma de Chile - Sede Talca, Talca, Chile
  4. 4Facultad de Enfermería, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha - Campus de Albacete, Albacete, Spain
  5. 5Instituto Superior de Educación Física, Universidad de la Republica Uruguay, Rivera, Uruguay
  6. 6Facultad de Fisioterapia y Enfermería, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha - Campus de Toledo, Toledo, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Sergio Núñez de Arenas-Arroyo, Health and Social Research Center, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha - Campus de Cuenca, Cuenca, 16002, Spain; Sergio.NunezdeArenas{at}


Objective To estimate the association between daytime napping and cognitive and physical sport performance and fatigue after normal sleep and partial sleep deprivation (less sleep duration than necessary).

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources The PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Central, SportDiscus and PsycINFO databases.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Randomised controlled trials on the effect of daytime napping on sport performance and fatigue available from inception to 2 December 2022. Standardised mean differences (SMD) and their 95% compatibility intervals (CI) were estimated with the DerSimonian-Laird method through random effect models.

Results In the 22 included trials, 291 male participants (164 trained athletes and 127 physically active adults) aged between 18 and 35 years were studied. When performed after a normal night of sleep, napping from 12:30 hours to 16:50 hours (with 14:00 hours being the most frequent time) improved cognitive (SMD=0.69, 95% CI: 0.37 to 1.00; I2=71.5%) and physical performance (SMD=0.99, 95% CI: 0.67 to 1.31; I2=89.1%) and reduced the perception of fatigue (SMD=−0.76, 95% CI: −1.24 to –0.28; I2=89.5%). The positive effects of napping were also confirmed after partial sleep deprivation. Overall, the benefits were higher with a nap duration between 30 and <60 min and when the time from nap awakening to test was greater than 1 hour.

Conclusions After a night of normal sleep or partial sleep deprivation, a daytime nap between 30 and <60 min has a moderate-to-high effect on the improvement of cognitive performance and physical performance and on the reduction of perceived fatigue.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42020212272.

  • Sleep
  • Athletic Performance
  • Meta-analysis

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  • Contributors AEM, VM-V, AIT-C and SNdA-A conceived and designed the study. AEM, AIT-C and SNdA-A performed the screening, study selection, data extraction, and analysed and interpreted the data. AEM drafted the manuscript with input from VM-V, SNdA-A, MG-M, RFR, BB-P and AIT-C. All authors have read and approved the final version.

  • Funding This research was funded by a grant from the European Regional Development Fund (Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER)) and supported by grants from the University of Castilla- La Mancha co-financed by the European Social Fund (2020-PREDUCLM-16704 (SNdA-A) and 2020-PREDUCLM-16746 (BB-P)), and the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (FPU 19/00167 (RFR)). AEM was supported by a Beatriz Galindo contract (BEAGAL18/00093) by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

  • Disclaimer The funders had no role in the study design, data analysis, interpretation of the results, or preparation to publish the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.