Naps are sleep periods shorter than the classic night’s slumber. They can occur at any time of day (and throughout your life) when you feel you need to recharge your batteries. They are an ideal way to power through the day. They provide a quick recharge and refresh your mind so you can focus on what’s important. Napping has always been a favorite pastime but new research shows that it could improve brain power… Did you know that the average person spends over 2 years of their life napping? Although it may sound like a colossal waste, there are also scientific benefits to be found. Here are 10:
Fatigue is one of the most common side effects of sleep deprivation. In fact, studies have shown that it can affect attention, memory, and reaction time. While stimulants such as caffeine are usually effective at keeping you alert and enhancing your performance, such ingredients do not tackle the actual source of fatigue – insufficient sleep. On the other hand, strategic naps can be really effective with respect to maintaining performance while also reducing the individual’s sleep debt. Fatigue can bring both health and safety concerns, and strategic naps have been shown to reduce subjective feelings of fatigue and improve performance and alertness.
Napping can also be effective at improving focus, which is why many students use it as a study technique. While stimulants such as caffeine can increase your ability to focus on tasks that require attention, they do not provide any lasting benefits beyond the initial effects. On the other hand, naps can help you stay alert for longer periods of time without feeling tired or exhausted.
It’s also important to note that napping isn’t just good for studying; it can be helpful in many other areas of life. If you’re having trouble focusing at work or home, try taking a short nap right before your shift begins or when things get too stressful at home. You’ll likely see an improvement in both your mood and productivity!
Improved Waking Performance
Many studies have provided good evidence that daytime napping has considerable benefits for waking performance. Moreover, naps are beneficial when it comes to total sleep deprivation (e.g., in nightshift workers) as well as partial sleep deprivation. Even for non-sleep-deprived groups, napping is also shown to be associated with better behavioral performance.
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you need to be awake for a long time and you’re just not feeling it, then you know how important sleep is to your mental and physical health. The good news is that researchers have found that napping can help! And not just any old nap will do—the type of nap matters too.
In a recent study, researchers found that the best naps are those that occur during the day, rather than at night. Daytime naps have been shown to improve waking performance more than nighttime naps have. This could be because daytime naps are more likely to occur when we’re already sleep-deprived, and so they don’t provide as much benefit as a full night’s sleep would.
Naps are one of the best ways to improve your memory, according to science. In a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, researchers found that napping helped to improve declarative memory and procedural memory. Declarative memory is the kind of information you can consciously recall—like your address or the name of your best friend. Procedural memory is what helps you perform actions—like driving or playing chess.
Napping also benefits long-term memory formation and those benefits are more significant in people who endorse napping at least once a week compared with people who rarely or never nap. Researchers suspect that this is because when you’re in deep sleep during your nap, your brain is able to consolidate memories into long-term storage.
Better Cognitive Performance
When it comes to naps, the benefits are almost immediate (lasting up to three hours) and they’re pretty sweet: naps can improve cognitive performance, reduce stress levels, and even help people perform better on memory tests. It’s all thanks to sleep inertia: that state of drowsiness after waking up from a nap where you feel like your mind is still foggy and slow.
But if you don’t want to deal with sleep inertia? Then make sure not to nap for too long! Longer periods of sleep deprivation are linked with longer periods of impairment from sleep inertia than shorter periods of deprivation (and those longer periods will feel worse).
So what’s the best time for a nap? Early afternoon is best for getting all those benefits without having too much trouble with sleep inertia—though if you wake up later in the day, there’s no need to worry about being tired when it comes time to get back into action!
Boosts to the Immune System
If you’re like us, you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Maybe it’s your circadian rhythm that’s off, or maybe it’s the way your immune system is responding to stressors, or maybe it’s the fact that your heart is starting to feel a little weird.
Well, now we know: naps help.
A recent study has found that taking a nap after being deprived of sleep for several days can help restore our immune and cardiovascular systems back to normal levels. The study shows that even for just a few hours after waking up from a nap, leukocytes and neutrophils – two markers associated with inflammation – returned nearly to baseline levels.
So next time you’re feeling groggy or cranky because you haven’t been getting enough sleep, give yourself permission to take a quick nap! It’ll do wonders for your health!
Association with lower BMI
It’s official: napping is the new black.
Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. But a recent study has shown that napping can actually help you keep the pounds off.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley conducted a cross-sectional study looking at the relationship between on-shift napping and BMI among female night shift workers. They found that BMI was significantly higher among women who didn’t nap than those who did, with higher BMIs being associated with more years of exposure to night work and more working nights per week. But among those who did nap? There was no difference in BMI between nappers and non-nappers.
In other words, if you’re working nights (and especially if you’re working them for a long time), it’s not just your waistline that will suffer—it’s also your health! So if you want to avoid increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, consider taking a snooze break during your shift (if possible).
Quicker Brain Processing Speed
It’s a well-known fact that sleep is important for good cognitive functioning. But did you know that napping can help improve your cognition, even after a night of too little sleep?
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco recently conducted a study looking at the impact of napping on processing speed in young adults who had been on a schedule of chronic sleep restriction. They found that napping partially reversed the negative effects of sleep restriction on processing speed.
These data illustrate the importance of sleep for good cognitive functioning.
Positive Impact on Emotional Control
It’s the gift that keeps on giving: napping.
Napping is good for you in so many ways, but did you know that it can help boost your positive mood?
A recent study looked at how a brief, midday nap impacted people’s emotional control. Results showed that those who took a nap showed an increase in tolerance for frustration and a decrease in self-reported impulsivity, while those who did not take a nap showed the opposite pattern.
These findings indicate that emotional control may become impaired from wakefulness that builds across the day, and that napping may be an effective countermeasure.
Combined with moderate exercise, a nap is even MORE effective
Did you know that the best way to improve your sleep and mental health is by combining a nap with moderate-intensity exercise?
Researchers from the University of Surrey have found that this combination of afternoon napping and exercise in the evening can reduce wake after sleep onset, increase sleep efficiency, and reduce daytime sleepiness. They also found that it improves mental health.
In addition to improving sleep quality, researchers found that this intervention improved some aspects of cognitive function as well—including alertness, concentration, strength, and coordination.
Napping helps Preschoolers
Napping is the core of infant sleep and remains an essential part of many children’s sleep diet until they begin kindergarten. A recent study showed that toddlers’ vocabulary and attention span are negatively correlated to their nap frequency. Multiple studies have shown that, along with cognitive development, napping in the early years has long-term consequences for adolescent and adult health and well-being. Moreover, young teenagers with poor preschool sleep habits were more than twice as likely to use drugs, tobacco, or alcohol 10 years later. Inadequate sleep may also contribute to childhood attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).