Nap time was an essential part of most of our childhoods, but as we grow older we assume that we must leave that part behind. But why? Learn about the benefits of napping as an adult and you’ll wonder why you keep forcing down that 14th cup of coffee just to get through the day!
We’ve all been there:
You come home from work or school after only a few hours of sleep the night before. You’re completely devoid of energy. Of course, there are many ways to regain or keep energy, and some are healthier than others.
If you feel tired or groggy, energy drinks or coffee are a popular way to go. Simply dragging through the day on low energy is another option; but what is the healthiest way to regain energy?
In a word: Napping. Yes, you heard me right… that wasn’t a dream because you accidentally dozed off in front of the computer… I said Napping.
We spend a large part of our lives asleep. That’s because our bodies and our minds need time to rest and recharge. We’ve all heard about the recommended daily amount of sleep that adults need, but even if you get the right amount of sleep at night — sometimes, it just isn’t enough.
Or, maybe, you just aren’t able to squeeze in that full 8 hours at night (sometimes for fully productive reasons, sometimes because you had another case of “Just One More Episode” during your latest Netflix binge.
Sleep is an extremely important part of our lives and must be respected and cared for by everyone – no matter how old you are! Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to keep our bodies healthy. When you sleep enough, you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start a new day.
When you don’t sleep enough, you get mentally and physically tired. This can lead to feelings of depression and can even trigger a stress response. Lack of sleep can also cause you to have less energy and to lose muscle and bone mass.
It can actually work in your favor to get up a little early and nap a little later. In fact, this little routine can have a great impact on your health and well-being. Sleep deprivation can cause many problems, from depression and irritability to migraines and memory loss. The combination of a deep, restful sleep at night and a short nap during the day could be just the solution you are looking for!
There are countries around the world that celebrate the nap and have incorporated it into their culture. For example, Siestas is a Spanish word which comes from the Latin word Siestas. A siesta involves taking a short, mid-day nap to relax and rejuvenate. But did you know that the word actually comes from the Basque language? It translates as ‘Nape’. The best part of the siesta? It doesn’t just involve a nap in the afternoon but during the night. Many cities in Spain have adapted this tradition into their culture, and now people enjoy siestas during the night as well. The truth is, after a long day, a short, enjoyable siesta does wonders to make us more focused and productive in the afternoon!
Some people believe that you can’t nap unless you’re really tired, sometimes that’s true – sometimes you will drift off into a lovely nap that you didn’t even expect. And even if you can’t actually nap that day, there are benefits to simply having some quiet time in a comfortable position to rest and recharge your mind.
So, while the recommended nightly seven to eight hours of sleep are crucial to our overall well-being, so are the benefits of napping. Power naps do far more for you than simply recharging your energy reserves. They have the potential to reverse certain conditions, prevent illness, and make sleep easier.
Check out this brief list of how naps can benefit you:
1. A stronger immune system & faster response to injury
A nap is a perfect way to heal injuries both internal and external. When you’re injured or have an illness, your body feels sluggish and tired because it’s trying to tell you to rest.
Resting allows our bodies to focus on healing rather than job performance or exercising; it reduces inflammation, too, making it a perfect solution to allergies in the spring.
2. A better night’s sleep
Did you know being overtired can actually hurt your sleep?
Symptoms of undersleeping include poor memory, irritability, and difficulty making decisions. It can even have a negative impact on how well we sleep at night, making us feel restless or wide awake.
Many cultures encourage naps during the day, usually between 1 and 3 pm. As a result, most people who nap sleep without issue and remain bright-eyed and mentally sharp throughout the time they are awake.
A short nap 4 hours or more before your regular bedtime can recharge your mind and allow you to fall back into a more regular sleep cycle.
3. Stress relief
Many people lament how hard they have it on days they need a nap. And while there is an element of truth to that, there are lots of stress relief perks that come with having a quick nap. Stress is part of our daily lives no matter what we do to escape it. Between our busy lives, our jobs, and our families there doesn’t seem to be any time for us.
But a 20-30 minute nap can alleviate stress and improve your overall sense of well-being. You’ll stop drinking and eating caffeinated drinks, which can actually heighten your feelings of stress and anxiety. Well, maybe not stop – that would be crazy talk!!!! – but you will probably cut down. That means you can also say goodbye to that crash feeling when the latest Latte wears off, meaning you won’t be as groggy, sleepy, or sluggish throughout the day. You’ll save on time spent watching the clock in order to make up for the lack of sleep that you’ve had. And you’ll have more energy at work or while you’re exercising to enjoy a good workout or play sport without it being such a struggle. And that can help reduce stress along the way.
4. Improved morale and better moods
Closing your eyes for 20-30 minutes has been proven to increase motivation and productivity. This has a positive impact on morale, too; a short nap could be just what you need to get through a hectic or stressful day.
5. Sharper thinking & decision-making skills
One of the lesser-known benefits of napping is memory improvement. When you sleep – or nap – your brain takes that time to organize and store memories. It can do this more effectively when your sleep patterns are consistent.
Recent studies show that naps are more effective than caffeine for memory sharpness and memory recall.
Among other things, napping can improve motor skills, nerve function, and verbal recall. If you can never remember faces or names, try adding a nap into your daily routine and see if that changes for the better.
And a quick note about holding back on the coffee and taking more naps: not only will you save a bit of money every year, you will also avoid the crash that comes with caffeine.
The Dos and Don’ts of Napping
Understanding where, when, and how to nap really starts with taking the time to think about your body’s need for a nap and the overall health benefits of napping. Some nappers claim that napping has gotten better over the years, and these kinds of “napping ninjas” claim that a few naps make a big difference to their lives. But if your experience is anything like mine, it feels like we’re no closer to figuring this one out. My body never seems to get the memo that it’s time for a nap, or it gets the memo – HARD – like a flashing, neon billboard over my head that says “TAKE A NAP, TAKE A NAP, TAKE A FREAKING NAP ALREADY!!!!!!!”
Resting for short periods throughout the day and night is a natural and healthy way for most mammal species to recharge. But as humans—especially as adults—we typically spend only one block of our time awake and the other asleep.
But in reality, taking rest midday doesn’t just benefit children and seniors, but adults as well.
So I bet you’re wondering:
If napping is such a great thing, why don’t more people do it?
The answer to that is simply that most people don’t think they have enough time. And they aren’t sure when to nap or even where to nap.
It’s so easy to get bogged down by all of our daily stresses and projects and forget about putting ourselves first.
In this section, we’ll have a look at the ways napping can help you or hinder you, depending on where and when, and for how long you do it.
Napping Tips: The Dos
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1. Nap 20-30 minutes
A nap should never be longer than about 30 minutes. Anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes is ideal; some people can even feel refreshed after 10 minutes.
It isn’t always that simple, though.
If you’re particularly tired, sick, or injured, napping for longer than 30 minutes can greatly benefit how quickly you heal and/or recover.
The more you sleep when your immune system is compromised or you have an injury, the easier it will be for your body to bounce back.
2. Nap before 3 PM
What time of day you choose to take advantage of the benefits of napping matters almost as much as the length of your rest. Also, the time of day when napping works best for your schedule might be different than your body’s best time for a nap. Plus, be mindful that your body’s clock changes at different rates throughout the year for various reasons. The perfect time to get all of the benefits of napping might be slightly different in the winter as it will be in the summer.
But, as a general rule, it’s best to nap earlier in the afternoon rather than later. For example, if you take your nap an hour before your usual bedtime, you may not have a great night’s sleep. Assuming a typical sleep schedule, resting your eyes and your mind is best done before 3 pm.
If you have an unusual schedule, don’t nap within three – five hours of your usual normal bedtime. This ensures that you are rested for the rest of your day while also following your normal sleep schedule.
3. Nap somewhere safe and quiet
You’re not going to get any rest trying to sleep at work or in a crowded room. Choose a quiet area or a place that’s not as loud as a busy bus station or mall.
Home is, of course, the best option, but if you have a cot or another napping option at work that’s quiet, try using that.
Safety goes hand in hand with quiet. You’re never going to be able to rest if you don’t feel safe.
Closing your eyes and drifting into rest mode is your most vulnerable state, so honor that by napping only where you feel secure enough to do so.
4. Nap in a comfortable spot
When sleep time is at a premium, pick a comfy spot for your nap. This doesn’t have to be your bed, it can be an overstuffed couch or even a hammock. As long as you are comfortable enough that you can help fall asleep quickly.
1. Don’t nap for more than 30 minutes
Did you know that napping for long periods can negatively impact your body?
Over-napping can cause sleep inertia, a slower immune response, and insomnia. Other issues that can arise are chronic sleep problems and long-term health problems like cardiovascular disease.
Sleep inertia is one of the main causes of problems for those who don’t have their napping techniques down. This is a psychological response to waking after sleeping too long or too little, and symptoms include grogginess, impaired motor function, and fatigue.
One of the most effective ways of reducing or eliminating sleep inertia when you wake up is simply going back to sleep for 10-30 minutes.
If that isn’t possible, have some coffee and avoid decision-making or driving until the symptoms have passed (this usually takes between 10 and 30 minutes, but may not always go away completely until you rest again).
2. Don’t nap too close to bedtime
As mentioned in the ‘Dos’ section, if you take a nap too close to your usual bedtime, regular sleep won’t come easily.
Many people who nap an hour or two before bed report having difficulty falling asleep; they often wake several times for no apparent reason during the night.
The Benefits Of Napping Is In The Balance
Both oversleeping and undersleeping can cause negative health effects. So just like everything else in this world, balance is the key to a healthy and happy lifestyle.
That said, the benefits of napping far outweigh any other energy-boosting alternatives, and are a great solution to having underslept the night before.
Just remember to keep those power naps between 10 and 30 minutes and enjoy feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to take on the da