Napping is a short period of sleep that usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes during the day. There is actually no perfect time to nap though most people enjoy short sleep in the late afternoon after lunch. At this point it should be clear that as much as naps should be encouraged, they should not be used to replace nighttime sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation classifies napping into 3 categories:
In America, 35% of respondents in a study said that they were too busy to enjoy any of the three types of napping. About 49% of those interviewed named tiredness as the main reason they nap. Only 8% and 6% confessed to be habitual and planned nappers respectively.
A short period of laying your head on the desk can bring a lot of relaxation. Studies show that the level of stress hormones is reduced after napping. You wake up feeling more refreshed and renewed to continue with your work.
Your level of alertness and energy tends to increase after napping for about 20 minutes. Studies have shown that short sleep for 20 minutes 8 hours after waking up increases your stamina. Though you will feel a little groggy immediately after waking up, improved alertness comes after 10 minutes of waking up.
Good for Your Heart
A 20-minute nap everyday reduces your risk of dying from a heart-related condition. A study done among 23,681 young men in Greece showed that those who napped for 30 minutes 3 times a week had a 37% lower chance of developing heart disease. In general, countries with higher rates of napping have fewer cases of strokes and heart diseases.
Improved Cognitive Function
In more a common language, napping improves your ability to think and be creative. A study by NASA among its astronauts showed cognitive function improved by a whooping 40% after a 30 minute nap. This positive result was attributed to the fact that the nerves and neurons of the brain are more rested after this short sleep.
Naps & Exercise
28 % of adolescents attributed their inability to exercise to feeling sleepy. This can be said of a lot of adults too. Napping rejuvenates your muscles so that you are able to exercise more.
It helps to reduce daytime sleepiness especially among people who stay awake for long hours at night. Naps are most beneficial for the following group of people:
- Factory shift workers.
- Students who have stay awake for long hours reading.
- Pilot flying in different continents.
- Health workers on night shift.
- Emancipate yourself from the cliché that naps are for the lazy.
- Prefer short period of sleep before lunch. Naps after lunch are more likely to lead to full-blown sleep.
- Take your naps in a quiet place away from possible interruption such as a ringing phone.
- Eat food rich in protein before your preferred napping time. These foods promote sleep.
- Darkness increases the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Eyeshades would be useful here.
- Remember to set your alarm to prevent napping for too long.
- It is best to nap in a warm place since body temperature goes down during sleep.
- Avoid eating sugary foods as they can lead to deep sleep and dreaming by making the brain more active.