Naptime isn't just for kids—or at least it shouldn't be. It looks like all those companies incorporating napping roomsinto their offices are onto something, because research keeps coming out that shows naps are seriously good for us—when you can swing them.
The latest: A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that napping can improve your memory. The subjects did several word puzzles in the morning and then again later in the day, and those who took a nap in between the tasks were more likely to incorporate the words used in the morning into the later test. In other words, they remembered what they'd learned better than those who didn't nap.
But if improved memory isn't enough of an excuse for you to take a nap when that afternoon drowsiness starts to set in, here are a few other science-based reasons why you should go ahead and lay down.
1. It helps you learn new information more easily. A study presented at an American Association of the Advancement of Science meeting found that people who took naps in the afternoon did better at learning tests at 6 p.m. than they had at noon, whereas those who didn't take naps did worse on the later test. The longer you're awake, the less sharp your mind becomes, and napping stops that effect from snowballing.
2. It can lessen the effects of an all-nighter. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that people who took two half-hour naps after getting only two hours of sleep were less stressed and prone to getting sick than those who went the whole day without napping. All-nighters are probably a bad idea in the first place, but if you must, dozing off for a bit the next day could help undo the effects.
3. It helps you reach your fitness goals. A study in the journal SLEEP found that sleep deprivation leads to junk food cravings, and another in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that losing just a few hours of sleep per night leads people to gain weight. Making sure you're getting enough Zzzs, whether during the daytime or at night, can help keep you at a healthy weight.
4. It makes you more creative. According to research presented at the Annual Meeting of Neuroscientists, the brain's right hemisphere, which is involved in creativity, becomes more active and more connected to the rest of the brain during naps. The researchers think this could explain why the answers we've been searching for but just can't seem to find sometimes come to us after naps.
5. It boosts your mood. A number of studies summed up in a Journal of Sleep Researchanalysis have found that naps not only make you feel less sleepy and foggy-headed but also can make you happier.