Why You Shouldn't Feel Guilty About Napping + Secrets to a Great Nap
7 minute read
Taking a nap during the day used to be mandatory when you were little, and most of the time you probably fought against it. After all, you didn’t want to miss out on anything. Your body needs the same re-charging as you get older too, probably more so, which means napping should be welcomed and not criticized.
A daytime snooze is great for your health and you shouldn’t feel guilty at all.
Why Afternoon Naps Are Good
Today’s society is driven by success, which means productivity is an everyday goal. Unfortunately, this leaves no time for a nap, and being unproductive is frowned upon.
What many do not realize is that an afternoon snooze can boost productivity and overall health, so time should most definitely be made for one. Having a nap has nothing to do with laziness, and everything to do with recharging your body and brain so you’re ready for round two.
Studies have found that a short nap in the afternoon can boost brain activity, as well as improve both your memory and your mood. It gives you the chance to shake off all of the frustrations from the first part of the day, so you can return focused and clear-headed.
Several large corporations even encourage their employees to take a short nap each day because of the boost that snooze will provide.
Studies have found that the body and brain benefit from afternoon naps in the same way they benefit from restful sleep. As our physical and mental powers begin to wane in the afternoon, a refreshing nap is the perfect solution for restoring us to optimal modes.
The benefits of napping include:
♦ Improved memory: Just like restful sleep, a nap helps your brain to code and efficiently store information from that day.
♦ Discover solutions: With your memory improved and information stored better, you can now find connections and solutions to problems that you may have missed earlier.
♦ Work harder: Doing the same thing each day over and over can lead to a dip in productivity. Napping gives you a break in the day so you can work with clarity, and focus on remaining tasks.
♦ Elevated mood: Research has shown that the rest you get from lying down is a mood booster, even if you do not fall asleep. A nap can be the answer to any time you are feeling down.
♦ More alert: The afternoon can be a struggle especially after you are full from lunch, but a quick nap can leave you recharged and alert.
♦ Caffeine replacement: Having a nap leaves you more alert and charged than caffeine. Coffee can also cause a crash which will leave you craving more, but a nap will recharge you with natural and sustained energy.
♦ Reduced stress: Napping in the afternoon can give you a break from any stress you experienced that morning. This prevents stress from building through the day and draining you. Reduced stress overall will benefit your immune system and health.
♦ Healthier heart: A quick nap each day has been shown to improve heart health. Mental stress can cause high blood pressure and heart problems, but napping helps to reduce this stress which ultimately protects your heart.
♦ Higher-Quality Sleep: It may not seem to make sense that napping will help you sleep better at night, but it does. So long as you don’t nap too late in the afternoon, a quick thirty-minute snooze will promote more restful sleep at bedtime. The combination of daily naps and restful sleep at night will lead to improved mental and physical health overall.
Naps will not replace sleep that you lost the night before, but they can help compensate for changes to your natural sleep cycle. Circadian rhythms cycle through the day, and the hormones that are triggered by sunrise start to fade as the day moves on.
As a result, we naturally tend to feel less energized in the early afternoon and less productive. Grabbing a quick siesta is the best way to perk you back up and reduce any drag or drowsiness.
Secrets to a Great Nap
It’s important to note the time of day that is best for napping. Specialists recommend a nap between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. if you’re going to have one. Any later than 3 p.m. and you will disrupt your sleep cycle. Napping too late in the day will have the same effect as eating a snack right before bed.
Your naps also shouldn’t last for hours, because then you’d reach a deeper sleep and will wake up sluggishly. The best naps will be between ten and thirty minutes.
You will likely be at work when it’s time for your afternoon nap, so you need to find a suitable place. Look for somewhere that you will not be disturbed, preferably cool and dark. You want to a restful sleep without interruption. It’s always advised, however, to set an alarm so that you don’t nap for too long while at work. Once you reach a deeper sleep, you will wake with brain fog rather than clarity.
One additional trick for getting the best afternoon nap is to drink a cup of coffee directly beforehand. This may seem counter-productive since caffeine is known to keep you awake and alert. However, science shows that caffeine takes about half an hour to kick in, which is the amount of time your nap should be. You will awaken from the nap right as the caffeine is activated, and this will help you to feel more alert upon awakening.
The Bottom Line
Studies show that much of the adult population is not getting the recommended amount of sleep each night. If you’re not getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, then an afternoon nap can re-charge you. It will help you feel rested and energized in the afternoon rather than sluggish and deflated.
When most people hit the afternoon crash, they reach for caffeine, but what they should be doing is taking a nap.