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A Nap a Day Could Save Your Life and Turbocharge Your Memory

A Nap a Day Could Save Your Life and Turbocharge Your Memory

What do Leonardo da Vinci, Winston Churchill, Morgan Freeman and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte have in common? They are (or were) all habitual nappers!

According to a new study published in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory by Saarland University, a mid-afternoon snooze isn’t just for your grandma anymore. It can dramatically boost your memory, increase cognitive function and develop your overall alertness.

A research team led by Alex Mecklinger conducted a controlled experiment with 41 participants, measuring their ability to memorize 90 single words and 120 unrelated word pairs.

After learning the words, half of the participants were given a one hour nap, while the other half were told to watch a DVD. The results showed that the nappers performed considerably better at recalling the words. In fact, they experienced a fivefold memory boost over the non-nappers!

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3 Awesome Benefits of the Nap

1. Napping does a system reboot & boosts memory

In the relentlessly driving pace of culture today, it’s easy to wallow in adrenaline, running out of momentum and eventually running out of steam. Crash and burn. A sensible nap, however, brings your body, mind and soul back into alignment, allowing you to once again face the nonsense of the day.

A short, solid nap–confirmed by Saarland University–has a significant effect on our ability to retain and recall information. Putting this all together, a nap is like pushing the reset button, furnishing you with enough new energy and fresh memory to tackle the six billion other tasks on your to-do list. Ctrl+Alt+Del for your body!

2. Napping lowers your blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease

Another study in 2007 found “acute changes in cardiovascular function” after a nap, thus lowering blood pressure–and with it stress, frustration and anxiety. While studying 23,000 Greek adults who regularly “siesta”, this study discovered a 37% lower risk of coronary mortality and heart disease. Nap more; live longer!

3. Napping makes you more productive and alert

That little bit of rest and reset allows your strength to return and your senses to be re-tuned. According to Dr. Sara C. Mednick, sensory perception is heightened and refocused post nap. When coupled with the other benefits of general relaxation, this rise in sensory perception results in much better focus and a broader alertness.

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What’s the Real Power Behind a Power Nap?

Unlike 85% of all mammals, humans only tend to sleep once a day. It’s not clear whether this is how we are supposed to sleep, or whether this is a drastic byproduct of modern society. Considering the health benefits of napping, the latter seems more likely.

A nap of up to 60 minutes allows you to enter into slow wave sleep (that’s the deep bit before you start dreaming). It’s during this time that your brain works on removing toxic byproducts while strengthening synaptic connections. This cements new memories and secures recent thought processes.

As you enter this period of sleep your heart rate and breathing slow down and your blood pressure drops. This gentle relaxation allows your heart, liver and digestive system to subtly adapt their routines toward stabilisation and recovery.

As if all this wasn’t enough, your body also produces less adrenaline and cools down a couple of degrees. This helps it to produce and release specific growth hormones that aid in muscle repair and cell restoration.

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None too shabby for a bit of sleeping, right?

How to Master the Nap

Now that we understand a bit more of the science behind the nap, how should we get on and do it?

Length

You don’t want to sleep too long or you’ll wake up groggy and potentially do damage to your nighttime patterns. You do want to sleep long enough, however, to allow restorative slow wave sleep to take effect. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 20 to 30 minutes of sleep, and the Saarland University study would suggest no more than 60.

Environment

Make sure that your space is warm, comfortable and free of bright lights and distractions. Light tells your brain that it’s supposed to be awake, so closing your curtains and shutting off that computer screen is a must. For a short nap, a comfortable chair or office sofa is better than getting into bed, with perhaps a light blanket to keep you warm when your temperature drops.

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Routine

It’s important not to mess up the rest of your sleep cycle, so keeping your nap consistent and near the middle of your day is probably a good idea. You could do worse than to nap around lunchtime after a bite to eat and a warm drink. The key is consistency; aim for the same time and the same length every day.

Waking up

Waking up on time is a big deal, especially if you want to keep your job! Rather than setting a blaring alarm, consider a waking light clock or phone app that brightens up the space around you gradually. Another option is waking up to the radio, or a soothing sound that gently increases over several minutes. Michael Hyatt likes to fall asleep holding his keys, knowing that when they drop and hit the floor he will wake up.

Don’t Underestimate the Nap

This little afternoon habit could greatly increase your productivity and even add years to your life. So nap more and live better.

Featured photo credit: Meagan Jean via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2020

The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

You have probably seen enough fad diets to last a lifetime. Many have become popular overnight and left just as quickly.

Some fad diets, though, have actually passed the test of time and are making some headway in the nutritional world.

Outlined below are four fad diets that are actually beneficial for your health and wellness. Read on to find out why you should consider adopting one (or more) of these healthy eating styles today.

An important concept you should keep in mind is to disregard the term “diet” as it is typically used. The word diet implies the idea of restriction and removal. Instead, think of the word diet in this context as a healthy eating lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at some of these healthy eating lifestyles that have been categorized, by no fault of their own, as fad diets.

1. The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet, or ancestral eating, is simply eating the way your paleolithic ancestors would have up to 10,000 years ago, or when the agriculture age began.

The advantage now is you don’t have to do this in a loin cloth, unless you want to… The focus of this diet is proteins, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds and some healthy fats.

In the paleo diet, there aren’t any grains, starchy carbohydrates, sugars, or dairy.

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How Your Health Can Change With Paleo

The paleo diet is a good way to keep your blood sugar under control. It can also have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes, and can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

With this healthy eating lifestyle, people have also achieved good weight loss results and boast improved energy levels. [1]

It’s not just what’s in the paleo diet that’s important, it’s what’s NOT in it. There aren’t any processed and manufactured foods, junk foods, artificial ingredients or chemical additives.

Paleo is a way of eating that gets you more in tune with your body and, therefore, can provide a lot of benefits.

2. Whole30

The Whole30 diet is relatively new and owes its popularity to social media and the #Whole30 Instagram hashtag that allowed people to share and broadcast their success with the diet.

With Whole30 you are taking 30 days and focusing on nutritious whole foods such as meats, nuts and seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.

During the month you are eliminating:

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  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • legumes
  • grains
  • dairy
  • soy

Whole30 is similar to paleo, but it goes a bit further eliminating sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

At the end of the 30 days, you strategically reintroduce those eliminated foods back into your diet to discover any possibility of health consequences from them or even potential food allergies.

Finding Out How Food Impacts You

Most people eat the same things so often and may not realize that certain foods are causing health consequences, as they’ve become accustomed to feeling lethargic and run down.

With Whole30 you get the chance to see how these foods may have a negative impact on your body. You’ll also reset your taste buds, which may have become desensitized from processed and artificial “foods” and excess salt.

This diet will help you regain your love of food… in a healthy way!

3. The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has been at the top of the list as a very effective diet for some time now.

For people in countries like Italy or Greece, this has simply been a normal way of life–along with higher activity levels, sunlight exposure, proximity to water, and lower stress.

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With the Mediterranean diet, the focus is on heart-healthy foods. It looks like this:

  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes & nuts
  • Replacing butter with olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Moderate amounts of red wine

Help Your Heart & Overall Health With A Mediterranean Diet

Information from the Mayo Clinic shows that this diet reduces heart disease and lowers your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Studies involving 1.5 million people demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, along with overall mortality. [2]

With all these benefits, this is definitely a “fad diet” that’s worth the hype.

4. The Alkaline Diet

The alkaline diet is about changing the foods you eat so that you put your body into an alkaline state and out of an acidic state. When your body is too far on the acidic side it can result in a condition called acidosis. This can lead to issues in your body such as upset stomach, breathing difficulties, headaches, weakness and, fatigue. In extreme cases, it can result in shock, coma, or death.

The goal is to get your body in a more alkaline state, which results in overall better health. The focus is on including alkaline boosting foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. You’re also wanting to reduce acidic foods such as low quality beef and poultry, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol.

Pros & Cons With The Alkaline Diet

The benefits that come from this way of eating is that reduction in inferior quality foods, processed items and alcohol. You may feel improved energy levels, mental clarity and even better joint health.

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People also report weight loss but again this may come from the reduction in calories from junk and processed foods but this is not a bad thing at all.

One con with this diet is that the pH value of the food you eat might not have an impact on blood pH, as your body is able to balance this pretty well on a day-to-day basis.

Follow These Fads for Better Health and Wellness

There can be a danger in categorizing things as a fad diet because fads come and go. People are always looking for the next big thing or a quick fix.

The four examples above buck that status quo. These diets, though mainstream, actually can give you benefits and aren’t going to go away anytime soon because they work.

What makes these diets special is that they boast real whole foods and the eliminate processed and manufactured junk.

The Big Takeaway:

Whatever way you choose to eat, the focus needs to be on whole unprocessed foods. Look for the cleanest, local and most natural things you can find for the benefit of your overall health and wellness. Your body and mind will thank you.

Featured photo credit: Dan Gold via unsplash.com

Reference

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