Is Napping a Good Idea During a Bike Tour?

Napping on a bike tour

Is Napping a Good Idea During a Bike Tour?

Napping on a bike tour

In a recent conversation with another bicycle tourist, she had mentioned that on some of her trips, she would feel tired and pull over on the side of the road to nap. While I don’t actually do that on my bike tours, I’ve taken extended breaks where I almost fell asleep. I decided to explore this topic some more to see if napping is a good or a bad thing.

I came across the National Sleep Foundation’s website on the topic of napping and found that most mammals actually sleep for short amounts of time during the day, but humans generally do not. Some cultures actually encourage napping, while others like the US have a negative perception of napping – laziness, sickness, or non-productive individual. However, in actuality, napping can be beneficial to people.

The Good & Bad

Taking short naps of 20 to 30 minutes improve short-term alertness, performance, and mood. Anything longer than 30 minutes, you run the risk of sleep inertia which is the groggy and disoriented feeling you get when you’ve overslept. This can be more detrimental to a bike tourist, as you don’t want to be on the road if you are feeling such conditions. Too much time napping can also throw your sleep schedule off. So be aware of your downtime if you decide to pull over for a quick siesta.

It is said that napping boosts performance by 34% and alertness by 100% in a study of military pilots and astronauts. Although navigating a bicycle isn’t as complicated as an aircraft, it is good to know that napping can in fact improve your performance significantly to keep you going.

Unfortunately, not all people can easily nap. Some people can’t sleep unless they are in the comfort of a campsite. Others can’t do it because they are sensitive to the sunlight and noise. But if you’re not prone to having these things prevent you from taking a nap, it seems that this would be most beneficial to you.

Potential Downfalls

I also foresee 2 main issues that you need to be prepared for if you choose to nap. The first one is safety. You want to make sure you find a good spot where you’re not targeted for any nefarious activity while you leave your guard down. Have a travel partner look after you while you’re sleeping or just ducking out of plain sight can help you. Perhaps napping at an open park can be the key to a quick nap. The second issue is that napping may delay your arrival time to your next destination. You may want to set an alarm to wake yourself up so you don’t suffer from sleep inertia, and you don’t stay on the road for so long that you end up riding in the dark. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I try to get into camp before it gets dark. It’s just safer to do that and you can find a campsite if you’re there earlier.

Final Thoughts

If you plan on napping, be sure you have rules or guidelines to follow. Rules like where to lay your head and timing will make things easier and less risky, especially if you’re traveling alone. I suppose napping is just part of the adventure of a bike tour. When you can do whatever you like whenever you like, taking a nap is just part of being alive and living your life as you choose. Don’t let me or any other person tell you what you should or shouldn’t do it. Do whatever you feel makes the most sense to you and be safe.

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