Naps are a beautiful thing.
When that “2:30 feeling” hits, there is nothing better than closing your eyes and luxuriating in those twenty minutes of slumber. You wake up feeling refreshed, invigorated, and better prepared to take on the rest of the day.
Sadly, in our workaholic culture, napping is often seen as a bad habit. We think that napping is for lazy people who are unambitious. We laugh at the coworker whose head keeps bobbing , and we feel guilty when we succumb to the nap.
This stigma surrounding napping is false. Napping is not a sign of a lack in motivation or professional drive. It’s a great tool for self-improvement and personal care. You can also get valuable benefits from napping and be able to perform at your best.
The Benefits of Napping:
When your head is bobbing, your eyelids are dropping and you are yawning every few minutes, you are not able to do your best work. According to a study published by NASA has found that a 40-minute nap in the afternoon can increase performance by 34%, and alertness by 100%. Even a 25-minute nap can improve afternoon alertness by 54%. A second study showed that 20-minute napping is more effective than 200mg caffeine in improving alertness and overall performance. It is also more affordable.
Read also: 10 Ways To Relax Without Falling Asleep
Improves Learning and Working Memory
Working memory is what allows us to complete complex tasks which involve focusing on one specific detail while holding on to various other details in our minds. This working memory can become less efficient if you don’t get enough sleep. It becomes more difficult to learn new things and carry out tasks. Napping can refresh your mind and improve memory retention. The neocortex is where memories are stored and preserved. You can improve your recall and memory by sleeping on it.
Good for your heart
You can improve your cardiovascular health by getting some sleep. Regular 20-minute naps, whenever possible, can help protect your heart health. A 20-minute nap can make your blood pressure drop by an average of 5mm Hg. This is as effective as taking a low dose of blood pressure medication. Regular naps can help lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks over time.
Burnout occurs when your mind can no longer effectively process new information because of fatigue and inadequate rest. While many of us reason that we cannot take the time for a nap because we have too much to do, naps as short as 30 minutes have been proven to dramatically improve performance on extended projects. The time spent napping is generally lost through unproductive activity brought on by tiredness, so napping is actually a better use of your time, and the results are noticeable!
Heightens Your Senses
According to Sarah C. Mednick, author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life and prominent sleep researcher, napping can improve your sensory perception as much as a full night asleep. This means that smells are more pronounced, vision improves, hearing sharpens, touch becomes more sensitive, and (best of all, in our opinion), taste becomes more pronounced. Yes, napping can actually make your food taste better! If that isn’t a good enough reason, I don’t know what is.
A lack of sleep puts stress on the body, triggering the release of the stress hormone, cortisol. While helpful in fight-or-flight situations, an excessive amount of this hormone in the bloodstream prompts glucose intolerance, an increase in abdominal fat, weakens the muscular and immune systems, and inhibits learning and development. High levels of cortisol have also been linked to diabetes and heart disease. When you nap, your body releases growth hormone, which counteracts the negative effects of cortisol, boosting your immune system, improving your sexual function, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting weight loss. This means that napping, particularly when you cannot get a full night’s sleep, is extremely important for your overall health and vitality.
The neurotransmitter serotonin is responsible for regulating our mood, appetite and feelings of happiness. When we are stressed or overtired, the body blocks the production of serotonin and quickly uses what is left. Because of this, we can become anxious, irritable, depressed and overwhelmed. Napping restarts the production of serotonin, allowing you to wake up with a more positive outlook.
Saves You Money
Everyone likes to save money, and napping can actually help you do it! When we become tired and it becomes hard to keep our eyes open, many of us immediately reach for another cup of coffee. For many, this means running to the local coffee shop, and though it may seem like just a dollar here and a dollar there, those dollars add up. According to Consumerist.com, the average American spends an incredible $1,092 on coffee each year! Instead of using coffee to stay awake, a short nap in the afternoon can increase productivity and performance without the hefty price tag. The stress from inadequate sleep can also contribute to snacking and boredom-eating. Taking a nap can cut cravings and save you money at the market.
You should avoid taking naps too early in the morning or too long. This can affect your ability to fall asleep and the quality of your night-time sleep.