Though some may claim that naps are a sign that you’re lazy, there is increasing evidence which shows that a quick power nap can actually benefit your health. Whether you’re low on energy during the day, or just feel better when you have some time to yourself, it may be beneficial to let yourself nod off every so often. While you come up with ways to convince your boss to institute nap time, here are five incredible health benefits to fitting in an afternoon snooze.
1. Short Term Energy Boost
While those against napping might claim naps make you more drowsy, taking a shorter nap will actually boost your energy and alertness. Next time you feel the need to grab a quick rest, doze off with confidence. Napping too long will have the opposite effect however, and make you feel groggy for hours. To avoid this, aim to sleep for about 20 to 30 minutes in order to get the jump on the rest of your day.
2. Say Goodbye To Your Daily Hump
The normal ups and downs in your energy are largely controlled by chemical systems in the body. Physiological makeup and sleep habits combine to make each of our sleep cycles a little different. However, there is usually a dip in energy in the late afternoon, in addition to an increase in sleepiness towards the evening. In one study looking at naps, caffeine, and exercise, naps were the most effective way to overcome this afternoon dip in energy.
3. It’s Natural
Humans are among very few mammals to sleep in monophasic sleep cycles. Splitting our day into one period of wakefulness, then one period of sleep is different from 85% of other mammals. These animals sleep on and off throughout the day in short periods, known as polyphasic sleep cycling. It is not clear if a monophasic sleep cycle is human’s natural sleep cycle, so some researchers believe napping may be perfectly natural.
4. Helps You Work
Another way naps may keep you healthy is by warding off dips in performance. Many people experience a continuing decline in ability to focus and perform throughout the day, making them less productive in the afternoon and evenings. To combat this, NASA recently did a study on their pilots. The group who were allowed to nap were 34% more alert in their post nap flights, while the group that didn’t nap struggled more. If NASA’s on board, your campaign for extended lunch breaks might not be that frivolous. More and more, research supports short naps helping you have a more effective day.
5. Helps Your Heart
Cortisol is a chemical our body releases when we’re in stressful situations, but when you sleep, your body release chemicals that balance out Cortisol. Naps aren’t excluded, as a recent study found that a 30 minute nap three times a week made a person 37% less at risk of dying from heart disease. Real world, lasting health benefits are as good a reason as any to take a reprieve from your to do list every once in a while.
Featured photo credit: Takashi Hososhima via flickr.com