If you often find yourself fighting to stay awake through the mid-afternoon energy slump, it’s time to rethink your stance on napping. You may think that napping is just for children, but taking a daytime nap is actually one of the best things you can do to get that extra boost of energy for the rest of the day.
According to psychologists from Harvard University, a short nap during the day can reset your system just as well as a full night of sleep. Research has shown that naps – if done right – can do your body and your mind good.
Here is a look at the top ten scientifically proven benefit of napping:
1. It protects your heart
One of the best things about napping is that you don’t even have to do it every day to reap its health benefits. According to a study carried out at the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland, people who sleep just 1-2 times a week have over 50% less chance of suffering a cardiovascular event, such as heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
2. It fights stress
Most of us are familiar with the dreadful feeling that comes after a night of tossing and turning in bed. You feel drowsy, moody, and irritable. This is because your stress hormones are all over the place after a sleepless night. Fortunately, taking a 30 minute nap during the day can help stabilize stress hormones and make up for lost sleep.
3. It helps you lose weight
Napping alone won’t make you shed pounds, but it can boost your metabolism and keep food cravings at bay. Taking an afternoon nap lowers the levels of cortisol, a hormone that causes fat to accumulate around your midsection. Short naps during the day are also associated with reduced leptin and increased ghrelin, two hormones that play an important role in regulating your appetite.
4. It keeps your skin young
Forget the miracle creams – if you want younger-looking skin, just start napping more often. A lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your skin. Losing just one night of sleep triggers inflammatory processes that break down collagen. Collagen is a protein that keeps your skin smooth and radiant. An hour-long nap promotes the formation of new collagen, resulting in rejuvenated, younger-looking skin.
5. It improves your memory
It’s not just your body that benefits from regular naps. According to a study published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, a 45-60 minute power nap during the day can improve memory by five fold. The study found that napping in a learning environment is a much more effective way to boost memory than taking a break.
6. It sparks productivity
It may sound counter-intuitive, but taking a nap in the middle of a busy day could actually make you more productive. A study from the University of Michigan showed that a short nap improves tolerance to stress in the workplace and helps adults maintain impulse control.
Keep in mind that taking a nap in your office for the purpose of increasing productivity will only work if you keep your nap under 20 minutes. Anything longer than that and you’ll enter the deep sleep phase, which means you’re more likely to feel groggy and disoriented once you wake up.
7. It boosts creativity
Spanish surrealist master Salvador Dali believed that a special napping technique he called “slumber with a key” was the secret behind his success. Dali’s napping routine involved sitting in an armchair and holding a heavy metal key in his left hand. He would also put a plate on the floor below the key, so the moment he fell asleep, the key would clang against the plate, awakening the artist from his power nap.
But don’t worry: you don’t have to replicate Dali’s elaborate napping technique to get the same benefits. A regular nap on the couch will do just as well to boost your creativity and problem-solving skills.
8. It makes you a better athlete
It’s not just artists who can use napping to improve their craft: athletes too can benefit greatly from regular daytime naps. Athletes who nap during the day have been found to reach peak performance levels faster than those who only slept during the night. Naps also improve athletes’ alertness on competition days and help muscles and connective tissue recover after strenuous exercise.
9. It prevents car accidents
Sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of fatal car accidents. Sleeping fewer than 4 hours a night increases your risk of being involved in a car crash by 15%. One of the best ways to make up for lost sleep is to have a short nap before a drive. This type of napping is called planned or preparatory napping and is often used by drivers to help them combat fatigue and avoid drowsy driving. A 20-30 minute nap is enough to boost alertness and help you stay focused on the road.
10. It will make you happier
If you’re still not convinced that taking naps is good for you, then this study will change your mind. Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire found that the study participants who took regular short naps (under 30 minutes) reported feeling happier than people who took long naps (over 30 minutes) or didn’t nap at all.
According to Psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, one of the authors of the study, not only do “naps of under 30 minutes make you more focused, productive and creative, but the new findings suggest the tantalizing possibility that you can also become happier by just taking a short nap.”