7 powerful reasons taking a nap could be good for you
According to the Independent, prime minister Boris Johnson is rumoured to supplement his sleep with a half-hour daytime nap. While number 10 has rebutted the claim, the article points out that if it were true, he wouldn’t be the first.
Winston Churchill was known for having a 90-minute nap in the afternoon to top-up his four to five hours of sleep at night. He was in good company too, as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo da Vinci were also said to be keen advocates of afternoon naps.
While we in the UK don’t tend to “nap” during the day, siestas are a notable part of day-to-day life in Spain, and an integral part of the culture in Italy, Japan, and some Scandinavian countries.
Not getting enough sleep means you cannot function at your best. It could result in you feeling less patient and empathetic, slow down your thinking, and mean you’re less able to cope with the unexpected.
So, could a nap help overcome these symptoms and give you a boost? Read on to discover seven reasons why it might, and how long the ideal “power nap” should be.
There are two optimal times for a nap
An article by Be Brain Fit suggests that a power nap could provide more of a mental boost than caffeine. It adds that a nap of 10 to 20 minutes could counter the natural dip in alertness that most people experience after being awake for eight hours, and boost energy levels for several hours.
That said, Psychology Today explains that if you nap for 90 minutes, it takes you through a complete sleep cycle that could help re-energise you for the rest of the day.
This means that the ideal nap time probably depends on how long you’re looking to boost your energy levels for. With that in mind, let’s now look at seven health benefits sleeping in the afternoon could provide.
1. Boosts energy and mood
The NHS states that a nap of between 15 to 20 minutes could help reduce fatigue and leave you feeling more alert. This is echoed by the Independent, which reveals that several studies have shown napping boosts energy.
One such study was carried out by NASA, which found that taking a nap during a shift improved employee performance by around 34%, and alertness by 54%. Furthermore, studies by Psychology Today suggests naps could improve emotional regulation, which could boost your mood and help you deal with frustrations.
2. Improves concentration
According to Psychology Today, a nap could help improve focus and concentration. It explains that a study in 2009 found brain activity associated with concentration was as strong in the afternoon after a nap as in the morning.
Those who did not take a nap saw it decline.
3. Increases physical performance
Professional athletes and sports teams are increasingly understanding the importance sleep plays in performance. Napping helps increase accuracy, speed, strength, and reaction time.
For this reason, naps can be a powerful tool if you’re looking to build yourself up physically.
4. Enhances learning
As sleep is critical to your capacity to learn and your brain’s ability to process memory, naps can help you absorb new information and bed in learning. Furthermore, Psychology Today states they can also aid memory recall.
It adds that a nap that’s 60 to 90 minutes long, together with a full night’s sleep, could aid learning.
5. Boosts creativity
A nap can help increase activity in the brain’s right hemisphere, which governs creativity. As a nap can enhance communication between your brain’s right and left hemispheres, your creative brain and your analytical brain interact more.
This could also help you make better decisions, allowing you to solve problems more quickly and effectively.
6. Reduces blood pressure
Taking a nap could help strengthen the body’s ability to deal with stress. Research reveals that sleeping for short periods during the day can also bolster the immune system, especially for those who may be sleep deprived.
As a result, your blood pressure could reduce in times of stress.
7. Helps preserve your appearance
Sleep helps restore the body, meaning too little sleep can make you look tired and less healthy. Naps that help boost your overall amount of sleep without interfering with your night-time rest can help to combat the physical effects of fatigue.
This means they could help you look younger and healthier.
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