If you haven’t gotten enough sleep at night, a midday nap can help improve alertness and memory. But make sure that it’s only for a brief period of time so as not to wake up feeling groggy.
Research has suggested that naps may have greater cognitive benefits when taken before 3 p.m., when the body’s circadian rhythm typically sets in for sleepiness.
1. Increased Energy
A brief power nap in the afternoon can be an excellent way to replenish your energy and focus. Studies have demonstrated that taking this short rest period of 10-20 minutes can improve alertness, memory recall, and productivity levels.
Researchers have recently discovered that taking a midday nap can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your mental health and energy level, regardless of age or sleep habits. A recent study revealed that those who took regular 20-30 minute afternoon naps showed improved cognitive skills as well as enhanced their memory.
Though not recommended, you can try to incorporate naps into your schedule at the same time each day. The ideal time for taking a nap is early afternoon after your lunch break and should last between 10-20 minutes.
A midday nap not only increases physical energy, but it can also make you feel more relaxed. Studies have demonstrated that taking a nap actually reduces stress, elevates moods and enhances outlook on life.
Additionally, a recent study suggests that those who take at least three midday naps per week are 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease than non-nappers, as reported by Medical Daily.
No matter the benefits of taking a nap, not everyone finds it to their liking. Some find it challenging to overcome the drowsiness that comes with taking short naps and may even wake up feeling more fatigued than before they took them. If you’re uncertain if napping is for you, try it out for a few days and see how your energy levels and mood improve afterward.
2. Better Focus
Studies have demonstrated that taking a nap can enhance cognitive performance. These effects appear to be due to various factors, including changes in sleep architecture during the nap and changes in arousal levels.
Researchers have recently discovered that short naps can improve sustained attention and working memory – two aspects of our mental capacity which we often neglect when taking a rest, yet which are essential for cognitive functioning.
Napping can increase focus as it helps the brain restore its neurotransmitters after a day of constant use. This gives you more energy to focus on tasks at hand, increasing productivity and helping you finish more tasks in less time.
Additionally, taking a midday nap can improve your overall reaction speed. A recent study revealed that people who took naps in the afternoon performed better on an easy cognitive agility test than those who didn’t nap at all.
To maximize the benefits of your sleep, follow these tips:
When it comes to napping, the ideal times are between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. This is when our bodies naturally become sleepy due to our circadian rhythms.
A quick power nap, which can last no more than 20 minutes, is the ideal way to increase alertness and focus. Be mindful not to nap for too long though; too long may interfere with your nightly sleep patterns.
Finally, taking a small dose of caffeine before your nap can help maximize the benefits of the time you spend sleeping and prevent any groggy feelings when you awake.
Napping can improve your performance and creativity levels, but it won’t make up for a lack of sleep at night. If you only get four hours per night, a 20-minute nap won’t do much to make you feel more rested when you wake up.
3. Reduced Stress
Napping during the midday has many unexpected advantages. It can help combat stress, improve memory recall and even strengthen your immune system.
Naps have a bad reputation for being lazy or undermotivated, but research has demonstrated that short naps can actually be highly beneficial to healthy adults. Napping can enhance several key mental processes like concentration, memory retention and flexible thinking – essential for judgment and decision-making.
A recent study in China has revealed that nappers performed significantly better on cognitive tests than non-napping participants when tested for cognitive ability. They also displayed improved performance in visuospatial skills, working memory, attention span and problem solving tasks.
Researchers discovered that sleep spindles, a brain function associated with sleepiness, help students consolidate information during naps. This may be especially helpful for students who tend to focus on one type of information at a time and aren’t as flexible in their thinking.
Students who were taught information and then napped immediately afterward retained the material 10% better than those who didn’t nap. This difference was even greater when tested at two and five day intervals.
Another advantage of taking a midday nap is that it can help alleviate tension headaches and migraines. People who frequently experience these types of symptoms find relief from taking a nap, increasing their productivity at work.
Though some still scoff at the health benefits of naps, recent studies have demonstrated that those who regularly take siestas tend to have lower rates of heart disease and mortality. This could be partly attributed to reduced stress due to resting, according to Bowman.
4. Improved Memory
Studies have linked taking a short nap to improved memory, particularly for tasks requiring the encoding of new information. Naps also clear out your temporary storage areas in the brain, enabling it to store and absorb more data.
A 2018 study discovered that people who napped regularly (nap+) performed better on a test of perceptual learning than those who never or rarely napped (nap-). These results suggest naps may aid memory consolidation processes, which are critical for learning and cognition in general.
A study published in Scientific Reports examined more than 2,200 Chinese adults aged 60 or older. They took a test that assessed several aspects of mental ability, such as working memory, attention span and verbal fluency.
According to the article’s authors, those who took afternoon naps performed better on tests of memory and verbal fluency than those who didn’t. Furthermore, they displayed greater “locational awareness” and a better memory of their environment, according to their findings.
One theory suggests naps may reduce the risk of cognitive impairment in older adults by improving sleep quality and quantity. Another idea is that taking shorter naps with slow-wave sleep helps the brain consolidate and recall new information more quickly.
Contrast this with a long nap, which may lead to cognitive issues as the brain’s short-term memory isn’t cleared out. According to study co-author Susan Gamaldo of the University of California in San Francisco, these longer naps could indicate someone isn’t getting enough nighttime sleep.
The study’s results are encouraging, particularly given that taking a mid-day nap is easily fit into most people’s schedules. Not only does it help alleviate stress and increase energy and focus levels, but it can also make you more alert.
5. Better Sleep
Sleep is an integral component of mental and physical wellbeing. Without it, individuals may experience fatigue, impaired memory and concentration, as well as an increased likelihood of illness.
A 20-minute midday nap can be an ideal way to recharge and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit without disrupting your nighttime sleep pattern. Studies have even found that taking just 20 minutes in bed is often enough time for people to enter the earliest stages of REM sleep – known for its deep restorative effects on both brain and body.
However, studies have demonstrated that taking long naps of 90 minutes or more may increase the likelihood of experiencing temporary grogginess upon awakening. This condition, known as sleep inertia, may be especially troublesome for shift workers or people who work irregular hours.
Sleep experts suggest taking no naps longer than 60 minutes for optimal results. A 20-minute nap is a suitable compromise as it will allow you to enter REM, or rapid eye movement (REM), the light sleep stage that wakes you feeling refreshed and alert.
Napping for an hour or more can have a detrimental effect on your nighttime sleep, as it will reduce the amount of pressure you feel to go to bed, potentially making it harder to fall asleep at night.
Another potential downside to extended naps is they may disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm, the pattern of sleep and wake cycles that signal when to rest. This could leave you feeling fatigued and irritable when it’s time for you to get up in the morning.
Napping is essential for all children and adults, but especially so for preschool-age kids. Regular naps help kids retain new information better, improve their school performance, improve memory retention, and enhance overall cognition.