You snooze, you lose? Don't tell that to our napping Hawks

"I've been taking the naps ever since I've been a little kid," said player Patrick Kane.

"You try to not think about your game too much before you get here," said player Viktor Stalberg. "Take your nap and let your mind and body relax."

The Blackhawks aren't the only hockey players who nap, nor is hockey the only professional sport that cultivates napping. NBA players — who, like hockey players, often have a practice in the mornings but don't play their games until late, leaving little time for a full night's sleep — are also nappers.

"Sports athletes are in some ways shift workers," said Dr. Baron at Northwestern. "If you're sleep-deprived, napping in the early afternoon, the traditional siesta time, is one of the best things you can do. It improves alertness, cognitive performance."

A study of Stanford University basketball players, she said, showed that naps improved the players' sprints and their grip.

She also noted that she was getting ready for bed at the very moment the Blackhawks were in their final blaze across the ice, making split-second decisions that made the difference between winning and losing.

Nap lovers know that naps are about more than sleep per se. They're a way of shifting your rhythms, retreating from life's noise, sweeping your mind clear so that you can resume your duties with less distraction.

Can all nap lovers point to the Blackhawks as proof that a nap can make us champions?

"Napping is a double-edged sword," Baron said. "There are some people who are nappers and some people who aren't."

Studies show that in older adults napping might be a sign of poor health, she said, and naps can disrupt nighttime sleep. People who feel extremely sleepy during the day even though they're sleeping long hours at night might be having poor-quality sleep.

I understand her warnings, but I side with the Blackhawks' Rogowin:

"We should all have hockey naps during our workday."

mschmich@tribune.com

CHICAGO

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