Napping is an important aspect of many cultures around the world and brings with it a number of different health benefits. If you find yourself craving a short nap every afternoon, here are a few reasons as to why that may be.
An Increase in Alertness
If you find your eyelids are beginning to droop by the afternoon, then this means that you will not be doing your best work. If you make time for a nap at this point, and then go back to working afterwards, you will find that your alertness levels double, and so will your productivity. There are many studies that point to a quick 20 minute afternoon nap being just as effective as a cup of strong coffee, so, rather than reaching for the caffeine, reach for a pillow instead.
Improves Memory Retention
Your working memory is responsible for complex tasks that require attention being paid to multiple subjects, and naps can really help to improve this. By falling asleep for a little while during the day, all of your newly acquired memories will be transferred to your neocortex, where they will soon turn into long term memories.
Improves Overall Health
The majority of Americans are sleep deprived, and this can lead to a number of health issues over the years. However, napping can really help you to catch up on some sleep, giving your brain a chance to rest and your body a chance to heal. Studies carried out on a population of Greeks discovered that a 30 minute nap three times a week leads to a 37% lowered risk of dying from a heart-related condition, while the overall risk of death dropped by 64%.
Boosts the Mood
If you find yourself feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or easily distracted during the day, then this could be behind your desire for an afternoon nap. When you nap, your brain is filled with serotonin, which promotes the feeling of well-being and contentment, meaning that you will wake up with a much more positive outlook on life.
How Long to Nap For
When it comes to the perfect amount of time to nap for, this varies between individuals, and also depends on what you are hoping to accomplish from your nap. If you are wanting a boost of creativity, try napping for 90 minutes, before 2pm, as this will take you into the REM stage of sleep. For those who need some extra stamina, a 20 minute power nap is the longest that you should do, while those who are trying to relax can opt for a longer nap, as this will help to lower the cortisol levels within your body. The optimum time to nap is between one and three in the afternoon, so try to schedule your nap for this time.
If you do not currently take afternoon naps, then this might be something that you may want to consider. Not only will it boost your productivity and alertness for the day, but it will also bring your body a number of different benefits, improving your overall health.