For a long time, napping was an activity reserved for children and elderly. Well, good news: it’s not the case anymore! At your home or at work, nap is a restful and peaceful break, and it only takes a few minutes!
As you may know, sleep is essential for many vital functions in your organism. If you lose even just a few hours of sleep, it can have detrimental effects on your health, such as your attention, memory, learning, cognitive capabilities… That’s why napping can be a solution if you’re suffering from bad sleep.
Indeed, you can nap for different reasons: recovering or preparing for a bad night of sleep or simply because you enjoy it! This useful habit has many benefits for your health: it will stimulate your cognitive performances, boost your health, reduce your anxiety level, enhanced your mood…
What’s more, those who regularly nap have more of the amazing benefits that napping offers you! So don’t hesitate to close your eyes for a bit, you’ll see that it’s highly beneficial in many ways 🙂
How to Nap Efficiently
That’s right, napping is an art! In order for your nap to be truly effective, there are some rules to respect:
- Never sleep in a total dark room. Best is to softened your lights, switch on some fairy lights and don’t close your curtains entirely so that there is still some daylight
- Sleep between 10 to 30 minutes maximum. Otherwise, you might wake up even more sleepy and suffer from insomnia during your night. If you think you’re not going to naturally wake up, put on your alarm
- Avoid to put your pajama and to get under your duvet. Your brain might switch the “nighttime” button on and then you will have trouble waking up
- Find a quiet place with not too much noise. A sofa in your living room, a isolated chair at your work… Everyplace that is peace and quiet
The Life Cycle of the Benefits of Napping
#1- During Your Nap
That’s right, napping makes you more creative. It stimulates activity on the right side of your brain, which handles insight, imagination, 3-D forms, and music awareness. While you sleep or nap, your brain is still active.
#2- Just After Your Nap
Improved Focus and Memory
You don’t need to nap for a whole hour! Indeed, a 6 minutes only nap is enough to improve your short term focus and memory.
Naps have been shown to increase alertness and promote learning on some memory tasks. This study shows that children appeared to have a improve memory and greater flexibility in learning after napping.
Did you have a short sleep last night? If so, you should definitively consider taking a little nap then! A 30 minutes nap is perfect to restore your hormonal balance and to boost your immune system functions.
That works especially if you had only a few hours of sleep as napping will help you get back to normal your noradrenaline level, which is a hormone that increase your heartbeat and blood pressure.
This study shows that napping counteracts decreased alertness and performance under conditions of sleep deprivation. This other study explains that nurses and doctors who take a nap during their night shift increase the chance of recovery after work.
Less Sensitive to Pain
Naps show to reduce your sensitivity to pain. Indeed, napping reduces pain hypersensitivity, regardless of vigilance status and could be used to decrease analgesic intake in patients with chronic pain.
Fewer Driving Risk
Risk of driving accidents after a nap is decreased as you’re much more awake and concentrated. Be careful as only taking a break has proved to be ineffective, whereas caffeine and nap significantly reduced driving impairments.
This is particularly true amongst the youngest drivers as the effect of a 30 minutes nap equals to 2 cups of coffee.
Better Working Performance
You’ve certainly noticed that after a nap, you feel much more awake and focus. It’s the best time to do some work as your brain has rested a bit and is at his best working level. For example, this study shows that a post-lunch nap improves alertness and some aspects of mental and physical performance. If you work on night shift, napping can be very important as it increases your vigilance, learning, and memory. Lastly, naps help you to promote performance and alertness when you’re at work!
#3- After Several Weeks of Napping
Lower Blood Pressure
It has been shown that people who have a high blood pressure and are used to nap have decreased their blood pressure by 5%, compared to person who do not nap. That’s not all: napping can also help you decrease your sympathetic nervous system activity.
Better Tolerance to Stress
Taking naps help you to fight against anxiety and stress. Indeed, this study suggests that napping has stress relieving and immune effects. Napping could be easily applied in real settings as a countermeasure to the detrimental health consequences of sleep debt.
In some countries, such as China and Japan, it’s usual to nap during work time. And you know how much japanese people are productive! Other big companies are starting to install nap rooms to let their employees sleep for a few minute during their work day.
Napping helps you to reduce anxiety and irritability, especially if you’re lacking some sleep. When you wake up from a nap, you feel happier, with a positive mind.
#4- After Several Years of Napping
Less Cardiovascular Risks
This study shows that people who used to nap at least 3 times a week have reduced cardiovascular risks by 37% compared to people who do not nap. Occasional nappers also benefits from naps: they have a 12% lower coronary mortality than people who do not nap.
Boosted Cognitive Capabilities
Nap is indeed really beneficial to maintain and improve your cognitive capabilities such as perceptual, verbal, motor learning, and implicit memory. This other study shows that attention allocation and information processing are also increased after a nap.