It’s a shame that we waste naps on preschoolers when they have plenty of benefits for us as adults too. 48% of Americans say they feel sleep deprived, but only 34% nap regularly. They most likely rely on caffeine to help them get through the day.
Napping for as little as 10 minutes can have a huge impact on your daily health. We need to stop frowning upon naps and seeing them as unproductive. They’re more productive than you realize!
Benefits of Napping
Improve cognitive functions
Sleeping affects learning and information retaining abilities, so it’s no wonder napping helps too. A 60-90 minute nap has been shown to boost mental performance for up to 24hrs (1).
Improves heart health
Those who nap regularly, at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes, are less likely to have future heart problems. Problems like coronary heart disease and coronary mortality were significantly decreased in cultures that have a siesta daily (2). Sounds like they’re on to something!
Reduces stress and anxiety
Tiredness causes stress which also makes you more tired. More sleep and better quality sleep is found to relieve the load stress and anxiety place on your body (3).
Improves physical performance
Athletes who take short naps were shown to perform better on the field, improving their motor reaction skills and speed (4). This isn’t limited to just athletes, as we can all benefit from better reaction times and alertness in the day.
Tips For a Better Nap
Use a timer to not oversleep and continue your work. Experiment with times between 5-45 minutes.
Use a blanket because you lose body heat as you snooze
Keep your head elevated, preferably on the arm of a couch or stacked pillows
Try napping in a cool, dimly lit room. Full darkness and a warm room will cause you to fall into a deeper sleep.
Nap in the afternoon, typically after eating. This is the midway point of your day, so napping too early may not last you and napping too late may mess up your night sleep.
Drink a cup of coffee or tea right before napping. The caffeine will kick in right as you’re waking up and help you get going faster.
Place a pencil between your fingers. As you sleep, your fingers will relax and the pencil hitting the floor will wake you up (a good alternative if you don’t have an alarm!).
The next time you’re feeling sleepy or groggy, don’t feel like taking a nap is a bad thing. If you’re body’s telling you something then it’s probably right. So be sure to listen to what it has to say!
(1) Lovato, Nicole, and Leon Lack. “The Effects of Napping on Cognitive Function.” Human Sleep and Cognition: Basic Research. By Hans P. A. Van Dongen and G. A. Kerkhof. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2011. 155-66. Print.
(2) Naska, Androniki, Eleni Oikonomou, Antonia Trichopoulou, Theodora Psaltopoulou, and Dimitrios Trichopoulos. “Siesta in Healthy Adults and Coronary Mortality in the General Population.” Archives of Internal Medicine 167 (2007): 296-301. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Print.
(3) Catley, D., and C. Karlson. “Sleep and the Affective Response to Stress and Pain.” Health Psychology 26.3 (2007): 288-95. NCBI. Print.
(4) Milner, Catherine E., and Kimberly A. Cote. “Benefits of Napping in Healthy Adults: Impact of Nap Length, Time of Day, Age, and Experience with Napping.” Journal of Sleep Research (2009): n. pag. Wiley Online Library. Web. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00718.x/full>.