There are two types of people in this world: nap people and non-nap people. While personally I am in the latter category, even the most nap-averse among us occasionally succumbs to a midday bout of Zs.
There’s no need to feel guilty about napping. You’re not lazy. Naps are actually good for you. Here are eight reasons (backed by science) to indulge in a good nap today!
8 REASONS NAPS ARE GOOD FOR YOU
1. You’ll be more productive.
Most people feel sleepy at around 3pm, thanks to our natural circadian rhythms. Rather than charging through your afternoon slump with caffeine and sugar, why not give your body what it really wants, and take a 20 minute nap?
If you’ve been working really hard and absorbing a great deal of mental information, studies have shown that taking a refreshing nap could slow or even prevent burnout. During sleep, the brain processes and stores information it gathered while you were awake.
Napping after an intense work period will wipe the slate clean and leave you ready to tackle something new while getting rid of those sleepy eyes.
2. Say goodbye to needless mistakes.
NASA found that a 26 minute nap increased pilot performance by 34 percent. And their alertness? That increased by a whopping 54 percent.
That means a nap can help you make fewer mistakes due to inattention and fatigue, even if you didn’t get a great night of sleep prior.
3. Your memory will improve.
According to one study, after being given a list of words and word pairs to memorize, a 45 minute power nap allowed students to remember 5 times more words than those who just watched a movie.
Our brains need downtime to digest and process information. An afternoon nap will improve your memory and learning capabilities. So, yeah, napping makes you smarter.
4. You’ll be less stressed.
A nap will reduce your stress on both psychological and biological levels.
According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, participants who napped after a night of severely restricted sleep had no change in norepinephrine present in their fluid samples between the restricted sleep day and a normal day. Those who did not nap had doubled their levels of norepinephrine present in samples tested.
Norepinephrine is a fight-or-flight compound produced when the body is under stress and generally increases heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
5. Experience a creative boost.
According to research, a nap that dives into REM sleep allows the left brain (known for logic) to rest while the right brain (known for creativity) increases its communication. So if you’re looking for a creative solution to a problem, a nap may be just the ticket.
This tactic seems to be most effective when you are trying to solve new problems and are seeking a different perspective.
6. You won’t cheat on your diet.
Or, at least, you’ll be less likely to cheat on your diet. We all know that a lack of sleep can encourage some powerful food cravings—especially for sugary, quick-energizing carbs.
Too little sleep actually impairs the function of your prefrontal cortex in your brain and impairs your decision-making skills. It also increases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. But refreshing yourself with a nap means you’ll be better able to resist an afternoon cupcake binge and choose healthy snacks instead.
7. Improve your learning.
According to research, a nap can actually clear your information storage areas, allowing it to be processed and absorbed while making way for new information.
The brain can only process so much information at once, so a nap is a great way to help your brain play catch-up and learn better. Imagine how much more information you’ll be able to retain once you’ve taken a solid nap!
8. You’ll feel way happier.
A good nap can have a significant effect on your mood. A study out of the University of Hertfordshire showed that about two-thirds of volunteers experienced greater overall happiness after napping for 30 minutes or less.
So maybe it’s time to bring back a little preschool. If you’re stuck in a grump, maybe it’s time for a nap.
HOW LONG IS A HEALTHY NAP?
So what’s the perfect length for a nap? Well, that depends on you. Any time between 10 minutes and one hour has its benefits.
All of these health benefits of napping definitively prove one thing: napping isn’t lazy. It’s healthy human nature. So the next time you or your loved one feels the need to hit the pillow in the early afternoon, remember it’s a good thing. So treat yo’self.