Most likely you’re stressed out. You’re overworked, and you haven’t had a vacation in a while. You’re waking up early and going to bed late. And while it’s essential to get a sound seven hours sleep every night, when you occasionally miss the mark, a nap can help a great deal.

Unsure whether napping is good for you? Let’s find out!

Woman napping at her desk during work.

The Biology Behind Napping 

Naps are not an indulgence or a sign of laziness, but rather a healthy way to restore the deficits of sleep deprivation.

Do you feel your energy decline in the early to mid-afternoon?

There’s a biological reason behind that fall. We’re designed by evolution to sleep in a long, consolidated stretch throughout the night, and to take a short period of rest in the middle of the day. Therefore, our body temperature drops, and melatonin levels rise between 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Both are cues for sleep.

Do you know how long to nap?

There’s both a science and an art to the perfect nap. Naps are the ideal way to unplug, even if it’s just for a brief period. The length of your slumber determines the benefits.

  • A 10 to 20-minute snooze, also called a power nap, is ideal for improving alertness, vigor, and decreasing fatigue.
  • A short-term rest of an hour makes you remember facts, names, faces, and places you’ve been.
  • A 90-minute nap brings forth Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which has been said to improve creativity and new skills.

Taking a long nap between 20-90 minutes may help, but you’re likely to feel groggy afterward.

Woman waking up refreshed from a nap.

The Benefits of Naps

Is napping good for you? When done correctly, the perks of napping are numerous. It has been shown to enhance performance, restore alertness, reduce mistakes and accidents. A nap is a powerful means of rejuvenating your mental and physical well-being.

There’s no excuse not to nap, especially when there are so many health benefits. Want proof? Check out a few of the health benefits of a catnap right now:

Recharge Your Body 

In between sleep and activity, it’s essential to allow your body to rest. A mid-afternoon snooze can quickly relax, refresh, and recharge your mind and body in the middle of a busy day. A nap may help you focus, improve cognitive functioning, psychomotor performance, and boost energy, which is why you feel energized after taking one.

Elevate Your Mood

Anyone who has experienced sleepless night knows how hard it is to be cheerful the next day. A short snooze can help eliminate that sleep-deprived irritability. Naps help us improve emotional regulation, including increasing your ability to tolerate frustration and reducing your tendency to be impulsive. It is a natural way to renew your energy.

Reduce Your Stress

According to Michael Twery of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Maryland, “Napping may help deal with the stress of daily living.” A short dose of sleep during the day can help lower your hypertension, strengthen your body’s ability to zap stress which ultimately can decrease your risk of heart disease.

Boost Your Creativity

Swap out your caffeinated brews for a 20-minute power nap, and you might feel more productive, have increased energy, and get the creative juices flowing. A short catnap can elevate activity in the right hemisphere of your brain, that’s the area that governs all aspects of creativity and imagination. Napping also promotes greater cross-communication between your brain’s right and left hemispheres, encouraging cross-talk between your creative mind and the analytical mind.

Woman taking a power nap in her office chair.

A Word of Caution!

Napping at the wrong time of the day or for too long can backfire. Be alert not to take a nap longer than 20-minutes at the office. Longer naps can leave people with sleep inertia, especially when they last more than 10-20-minutes. Sleep inertia is the disorientation and dizzy feeling that happens after awakening from a deep sleep. Also, avoid taking a nap later in the day, which can negatively affect the length and quality of your night-time sleep.

Getting enough night sleep is the best way to stay alert and feel your best. But, when tiredness sets in, a quick nap can do wonders for your physical and mental stamina. However, if after following these tips you’re still feeling tired throughout the day, and endlessly fighting sleep, you may have a more severe sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea. If this is the case, then no amount of napping will help you feel more rested.

National Napping Day

National Napping Day is celebrated annually, following the return of Daylight Saving Time. This year, National Napping Day is on Monday, March 11th, 2019. This day encourages everyone to catch up on lost sleep with a quick daytime snooze. Pretty simple?

So, why are you waiting? Snooze, get comfy, and dream on!

Happy Napping!