It may be a game where brute force, lightning speed and exceptional ball-handling skills are the order of the day.
But the teams fighting it out at this year’s Rugby Union World Cup finals in France might be better off deploying another match-winning tactic – a daytime snooze.
New research shows a lunchtime nap can significantly improve performance among professional rugby union players before they take to the pitch for an afternoon or evening match.
Catching forty winks boosted power levels during games, reduced fatigue and helped to ease muscle soreness, according to a study by sports scientists at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.
The research, published in the journal Sleep, suggests a daytime snooze could give teams a vital edge in a sport where the margins between victory and defeat can be negligible.
Professional rugby players train several hours a day most days of the week.
Catching forty winks boosted power levels during games, reduced fatigue and helped to ease muscle soreness. (Pictured, New Zealand’s fly-half Beauden Barrett runs with the ball during the France 2023 Rugby World Cup)
As well as spending hours in the gym, their diet and hydration patterns are also closely monitored to ensure peak performance.
But the latest study, involving 15 full-time players, indicates that a daytime nap may be just as important when it comes to winning vital games.
Researchers got all 15 recruits to undergo an intense morning training session.
This included two 45-minute workouts and a six-second peak power test – where volunteers pedal a bike as fast as they possibly can for six seconds to measure how much power they generate.
Players completed the battery of tests on two occasions before competing in a match later in the day.
But on the second occasion, they took a nap of up to one hour at around midday, when they had finished training and were waiting for kick-off.
The results showed they scored higher in terms of power output, were less tired and had fewer aches and pains if they snoozed after morning training.
They also said they exerted less energy during training sessions and matches if they had had a chance to nap.
In a report on the findings, researchers said: ‘Daytime napping is often used by elite athletes in both training and match-day settings.
Other studies suggest napping can halve the risk of a heart attack or stroke and help some people ward off depression. (Jordie Barrett of New Zealand playing in the World Cup)
‘We found it had benefits for professional rugby players.’
Earlier this year, a major study of more than 35,000 Brits by experts at University College London showed snoozing during the day reduced the risk of brain shrinkage in older adults – preserving memory and cognitive function.
Other studies suggest napping can halve the risk of a heart attack or stroke and help some people ward off depression.
But it can also be harmful – a Chinese study in 2022 found dozing off for more than an hour in the day increased the chances of developing diabetes by more than 30 per cent.
The latest findings come as England prepare to face Fiji in a knockout contest this afternoon at 4pm.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk