Are you worried about your nap during the day? Need not be. The benefits of napping are many and can be useful if you know the right way of napping.
Napping is a short period of dozing during the daytime and is a common practice for many people. While it is believed that sleeping for long hours during the day can be harmful, napping may be beneficial for many.
Benefits of Napping
Experts believe that short periods of sleep can be restorative and can offer great benefits.1 Napping can be a great option for some people while for some the napping should be managed in a controlled manner. While various factors affect the benefits of napping the duration and nature of the brief sleep must be considered. Nevertheless, when planned in an appropriate manner napping can offer great benefits.
Some of the main benefits of napping include:
Working continuously or studying for long hours often makes you feel fatigued. This eventually affects your focus and seem to become less alert. A short nap can help you get over daytime sleepiness or help you if you are feeling tired after a lot of strenuous work. Improved alertness after a short nap is one of the best benefits of napping.
With improved alertness, you are less likely to make mistakes and with better focus, you show an improvement in your work efficiency. Thus, improved performance is another important benefit of napping. Studies have shown that naps can help improve your alertness, help speed up reaction time and also improve your logical reasoning abilities.2
Helps Boost Memory
Apart from alertness, an improved cognitive performance due to better memory is one of the interesting benefits of napping. Experts have reported that people who nap for 30 to 90 minutes had better word recall, and figure drawing, which is considered a sign of good memory.3 However, resting for more hours during the day is not advisable as it can lead to cognitive problems.
Improves your ability to deal with stress and helps you face the situation with less frustration. It helps you think more rationally and focus on working out a solution rather than getting irritated about the problems. Daytime napping for short periods helps you overcome physical and mental fatigue, which relieves your tension, making you feel better and refreshed.
Better Learning and Development
The benefits of napping also include better learning due to reduced daytime sleepiness and fatigue. This can also help boost your learning process and your performance at work or in your studies. Napping offers a lot of benefits to children as they help to meet their sleep requirement and aid in better development. The benefits of napping in children also include better emotional self-regulation, improved behavior, and better memory and language development.4
It is important to understand the relationship between sleep and the immune system to consider why lack of adequate sleep is associated with more negative health outcomes. Lack of adequate sleep increases inflammatory markers and can affect your immunity along with overall health.
A 2011 study concluded that increased sleepiness after sleep restriction was found to be better in the nap and extended sleep recovery. The results confirmed that additional recovery sleep after sleep restriction, which can be offered by a short nap during the day can help improve alertness and bring leukocyte count to baseline values.5
A 2015 study concluded that napping offers stress relieving and immune effects. The levels of chemicals related to stress and immunity were found to be reduced when the participants were able to overcome their sleep deprivation by napping.6
Another benefit of napping is the increased chances of improved overall well-being.
A 2015 study report suggested that short naps are associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. Longer naps can have a negative impact but shorter naps of less than 30 minutes offer great benefits of napping and can lower cardiovascular stress. The study also reported that a short nap can reduce stress and blood pressure in a specific manner, such that it can lower the risk of heart disease.7
A 2017 study reported that the siesta habit, which is taking a short nap in the afternoon, is linked with a decreased risk of intracranial aneurysm and rupture. While the size and location of the aneurysm, health conditions, and lifestyle choices also influenced the occurrence of intracranial aneurysms, napping is a new predictive factor to assess the risk of this condition.8
Best for Shift Workers
The benefits of napping have much healthier options to offer for shift workers. People working in shifts have an erratic schedule. If your working hours are different due to time zones, or you are traveling and need to cope with your work hours, napping is the best option. As you have to be alert at irregular times and you are unable to sleep at night, you have to make up for the lost hours of sleep. Napping during the day can help to maintain focus when you work at night, without feeling fatigued.
Beneficial for Physical Performance
While napping is believed to help improve overall performance, it can also help boost cognitive and physical performance in physically active individuals.
A 2021 study reported that a diurnal nap can help enhance the recovery process in athletes, while it can counter the negative impact of sleep deprivation on their cognitive and physical performance. Athletes experiencing chronic lack of sleep may be benefited from a 90 min nap. However, more research needs to be done in this respect to evaluate the evidence and understand the needs of the athletes, to avoid bias.9
Some studies show interesting results regarding the benefits of napping. Napping can help reduce daytime sleepiness and improve cognitive functioning.
In a 2010 study, the benefits of a short nap, which was of 5 to 15 mins duration, were noticed almost immediately after the nap. They could last for a short duration of about 1 to 3 hours, while longer naps of more than 30 mins can offer improved cognitive performance for a longer duration of up to many hours after waking. However, naps of longer duration can produce sleep inertia, which is a feeling of disorientation upon waking up.10
Make The Most Of The Benefits Of Napping
Studies suggest that 1 pm to 4 pm is the best time for napping for adults as it can offer the best benefits of napping. It is best that the short nap lasts between 20 to 40 minutes, which helps avoid sleep inertia and it also does not interfere with the night’s sleep.3
Thus, the benefits of napping are many. Plan your schedule in the right manner and take short naps in the early afternoon to boost your performance.