In these busy times that we live in, it is very hard to find time for relaxation. Our schedules are full so we usually don’t have time to take a nap in the afternoon. At that time, most of us come back from our workplaces, and household chores or other responsibilities are waiting for us.
Living this way, day by day, can negatively affect our health and drain our energy. Eventually, it will lead to burnout, except if we do something to prevent our exhaustion.
Although many consider taking a nap lazy and childish, more than 30 % of Americans take a nap every day. Science has proved that naps are not counter-productive and don’t disturb the night sleep as some people believe. They are actually very beneficial for your health.
Naps improve performance and alertness
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 20 to 30 minutes nap because it is very effective in restoring your alertness and boosting your performance. Such a short nap will not affect your nighttime sleep and will not make you blear as the long naps do.
One study from NASA found that a 40-minute nap improved the performance and alertness of military pilots and astronauts by 100%.
Naps help you recharge your energy and slow down, so they are a great way to prevent burnout and to improve your overall well-being.
Naps improve memory
In 2010, a study in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory revealed that daytime naps have a positive effect on memory processes. This is particularly true about associative memory, which is the ability to connect unrelated objects. In this study, 31 participants were given a task to memorize at noon, two sets of photograph pairs face-object. They were divided into two groups. Participants from the first group had a 90-minute daytime nap and those from the second group did not take a nap. At 4:30 p.m., participants from the first group had much better results on the task than participants from the other group.
The Sleep Medicine and Research Center conducted a study in 2006 that showed that taking naps and caffeine helps workers to improve at their job, especially if they are drivers. Experts strongly recommend taking a 20-minute nap before drivers start driving again.
Regular napping and its psychological effect
Scheduled napping is very helpful for those who suffer from narcolepsy, so it is prescribed for them.
Frequent naps are proved to be very useful when you acquire a new skill. One study showed that those who have a habit of napping do much better on tasks about reading and retention. Researchers explain this by saying that habitual nappers have brains that consolidate motor learning better.
Different types of naps:
When there is some important event that will probably finish later in the night, then you plan to take a nap in order to prevent feeling tired and feeling sleepy later.
It is an afternoon nap taken by workers whose energy is drained, like tired drivers or those who operate dangerous equipment.
Some people take naps every day at the same time, usually after lunch.
Even though its positive health effects are numerous, taking a nap sometimes can have negative effects, especially if it is longer than half an hour. In those cases, it makes you feel disoriented and groggy. Also, if you have some big problems with falling asleep at night, then you should avoid daytime naps as much as possible.