As we get older we tend to try and fight daytime tiredness with an espresso or Red Bull. But did you know there is actually a better way? Taking a nap! That’s right guys, naps are not just for kids. Here is a list of 6 reasons why you should be napping during your day (even if you are at work already). Strategically nap more and see how your life changes for the better.
TAKING A NAP HELPS TO:
IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
Just a short nap can improve your mood and studies have proven this. PhD Kimberly Cote, a psychology professor at Brock University in Canada has studied the science of naps and believes that almost everyone in the adult population could benefit from one. Cote explains, “A certain percentage of people are regular nappers. If you ask these people, they’ll be aware they’re getting benefits: They’re more alert, have better moods and they’re feeling sharper.”
Another study done by doctoral student Jennifer Goldschmied at the University of Michigan found that after just a 60 minute midday nap, people were “less impulsive and had a greater tolerance for frustration than people who watched an hourlong nature documentary instead of sleeping.” So if you’re feeling glum or annoyed, maybe a nap is the best midday medicine you can take. Studies show happy people are nappers by habit and necessity.
IMPROVE YOUR LEARNING
From the same study, doctoral student Jennifer Goldschmied found that “even a brief bit of sleep helps reinforce learned material.” This essentially means that you can help to consolidate what you’ve already learned through sleep. I personally find it amazing that you don’t even have to be conscious to improve your learning and memory. Sarah Mednick, PhD psychologist at the University of California Riverside performed studies focused on the effects of sleeping on one’s ability to learn perceptually- that is, performing certain sensory tasks. Her findings showed that, “people perform better on a visual texture-distinguishing task after a night of sleep than they do immediately after learning it”. Perhaps most astonishing of all was the fact that “people performed just as well on the test after a 60- to 90-minute nap as they did after a full night of slumber”. So before you decide to pull an all nighter, try sleeping instead…you’re more likely to retain information easier and perform tasks better. How I wish my University professors would have told me a nap was the key to success.
GET YOU FOCUSED
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 20-30 minute midday nap “for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.” With that being said, if you can improve your level of focus, your performance will benefit from that.
One popular study looking at the power of naps and how they affect the performance of NASA military pilots. I know we are not all so extraordinary, but the results from the study are telling. The study found that after a 40 minute midflight snooze, pilots improved their performance by 34% and alertness by 100% compared to those pilots who did not nap. To me, this just means everyone with important high focus jobs should be allowed to take naps throughout the day. But it also means that naps can help anyone improve their workday with just a few minutes asleep.
BOOST YOUR CREATIVITY
That’s right, a nap can get your creative juices flowing. I have always believed that your unconscious is working creatively while you are asleep, and I was right! Research done at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests that when you reach Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep your creative problem-solving is enhanced.
Another study done by Sarah Mednick, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego and Denise Cai, graduate student at the UC San Diego Department of Psychology found a similar link between REM sleep and creativity. Mednick explains “We found that for – creative problems you’ve already been working on- the passage of time is enough to find solutions…However for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity.” So if you are ever feeling stumped or experiencing writer’s block, forget about it and take a nap. You may just wake up with more ideas!
BETTER YOUR HEALTH and YOUR HEART
Napping is not only good for your mind, but your body too. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine looking at more than 23,000 Greek men and women (ages 20 to 86) found that those who nap at least 3 times for a half hour are associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease. Obviously other lifestyles remain a factor in this study, however the coincidence is uncanny.
Another British study suggests that simply just being aware of the fact that a nap is coming helps to lower one’s blood pressure. The point is, if you can take a nap daily… DO IT. A nap attack is way better than a heart attack.
So you stayed up late to finish that English paper huh? Maybe you had to finish that project for the boss before 9 a.m.? I bet all you can think of is coffee. RESIST that urge and nap. A good power nap can actually be as refreshing as a solid night’s sleep, or so studies say. Psychologists at Harvard University found that a 60-90 minute nap can rest your brain similarly to a full eight hour sleep. However, in order to get the full benefits of that nap, some of the time needs to be spent dreaming. You better remember to set a timer then.
PhD Sarah Mednick has also done research that shows that taking a nap can trump one’s need for a midday dose of caffeine. Essentially naps help you to boost alertness and attention to detail, while caffeine only artificially enhances these abilities. Why not take 15 minutes to rest up during lunch instead of waiting in line at a Starbucks?