Need a nap? It turns out that taking an occasional nap is favourable to your health. Before you take one, read on to learn its benefits!
- A recent study has found that a daytime nap once or twice a week can lower the risk of heart attacks or strokes. This observational study, published in the journal of the British Cardiovascular Society Heart, tracked over 3400 people for over 5 years and found that those who napped occasionally (once or twice a week, for 5 minutes to 1 hour) were 48% less likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke or heart failure compared to those who did not nap at all.
- Taking a power nap can help you boost productivity. Sleep experts have found that daytime naps can help improve cognitive function such as increasing alertness, boosting memory, reducing mistakes, improving perception and accuracy as well as boosting creativity. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
- Are you a college or university student? Research shows that sleep-deprived undergraduate students are more likely to get worse grades and drop a course than their well-rested fellow students. In one study, inadequate sleep was found to be as powerful as binge drinking, and more powerful than marijuana, in predicting who would have academic problems. In the USA, napping stations and sleep pods are now popping up in various universities. ” Napping is a survival mechanism for college,” says Sara Mednick, Assistant professor at University of California-Riverside and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. She recommends a 60- to 90-minute nap taken 8 to 9 hours after waking up. She explains, “Ninety minutes affords you all of the different sleep stages shown to be important for cognition, memorization, creativity, basic motor skills and the ability to make decisions in a clever way.”
- Napping is better than consuming caffeine. “The boost you get from caffeine is good for 15 to 20 minutes up to a half hour, but sleep is actually taking the recent information that you’ve learned and filing it away for you so you can more effectively take in new information,” says Robert Stickgold, an associate professor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. Caffeine cannot make you feel as rested as well as a nap.
Naps can be beneficial, but if you feel drowsy or lethargic throughout the day, go see your doctor. Your daytime sleepiness may be due to insomnia, stress, sleep apnea or other underlying health conditions. Also, if you don’t feel the need to nap, feel groggy after a nap or can’t sleep at night after napping, then perhaps you’re getting enough sleep (congratulations!). Napping isn’t for you. But for those who feel energised, refreshed and more productive after a nap, go for it!