The Top 10 Benefits of Napping (You Might Not Know)

Napping can seem like a waste of time, but it’s actually quite good for you! It has many benefits, both physical and mental, that you may not be aware of. From increasing productivity to improving mood and reducing stress, there are plenty of reasons to make napping an integral part of your daily routine. This article takes you through the 10 benefits of napping that you may not have known about before now.

Point to note, though: Napping cannot replace your regular sleep time, and the health benefits of getting adequate sleep each night cannot be emphasized enough.

But in case you are on a tight schedule and often sleep late or wake up very early and don’t sleep long enough, or if you are generally tired and less productive to meet the day’s demands, a 20-minute nap could help you feel revived and energized to face the rest of the day.

While most healthy individuals don’t need a nap, napping offers positive benefits and should be embraced whenever you need to refresh and increase your productivity.

You will also enjoy reading, How To Sleep Better and 10 Benefits Of Getting Enough Sleep

Benefits of Napping

When done correctly, napping can boost your health in various ways, including:

1. It can improve memory.

Just like a good night’s sleep can enhance better memory, naps also promote memory consolidation. Memory consolidation is a process by which short-term memory is transformed into a more stable and long-lasting one.

Taking a nap after learning something new can help retain the information long-term.

In one study, students were grouped into three to ascertain how memory following a nap compared to cramming. All the groups were subjected to a 90 minutes lecture, after which one group spent an hour napping, another spent an hour resting, and the last group spent an hour cramming. The students then took a 30-minute break before undertaking a test. Results showed that the napping and cramming groups performed better than the resting group. However, after one week, the napping group maintained their memory while the cramming group did not.

2. Napping may improve cognitive functions

Cognitive functions are the mental processes that allow us to think, remember, and learn. They include attention, perception, memory, language, executive function, and problem-solving. Napping can improve all of these cognitive functions.

Research shows that napping reduces sleepiness and may boost cognitive performance. It does so in various ways, including lowering adenosine levels in the brain. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that increases sleepiness during exhaustion.

3. It may boost immunity

Your immune system is your body’s defense against infection and illness. It is made up of a network of cells that protect you from harmful substances. One way that the immune system works is by producing antibodies that recognize and attack invading germs or by making special proteins called killer T-cells that find infected cells in the body and destroy them. These are just a few of the many ways your body protects itself each day.

Taking a nap after a sleep-deprived night may help counteract the immune lowering effects of inadequate sleep. Lack of sleep increases inflammatory markers, leading to an immunodeficiency state with an increased risk of contracting an infection.

Having naps have also been shown to boost the production of white blood cells, which are immune cells that fight infections.

4. It may promote heart health

A healthy heart is essential for a long and prosperous life. There are many things you can do to keep your heart healthy, but one of the most important is getting enough sleep. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than six hours a night are at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Napping can help reduce these risks by giving your heart a chance to rest and recover from the stresses of the day.

A study conducted by the University of Athens Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health found that taking regular naps at least three times a week, for 30 minutes each, could lower coronary-related mortality compared to a lack of napping.

In another study, napping once or twice a week lowered the risk of cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack.

5. Napping reduces stress and anxiety

Stressful situations, especially at the workplace, may sometimes be inevitable. But taking a nap can help calm your nerves and lower your risk of getting an anxiety attack. It may also help strengthen your body’s ability to deal with stress.

Also, a mid-afternoon nap after a night of poor sleep decreases stress hormones while increasing alertness and performance.

Besides, napping provides both physical and mental health, further promoting brain rejuvenation and boosting energy levels, thus increasing productivity.

6. Napping may help you coup with cravings

Feeling tired is often accompanied by increased hunger and cravings, especially for sweet things such as chocolates, soda, candy, or even coffee. However, opting to take a nap instead may help shift your focus and allow the cravings to wear down.

The cravings are also often associated with increased stress hormones from overwhelming, so taking a nap will ultimately lower your level of stress, restore concentration, and diminish your cravings.

7. Boosts productivity

It might sound counterintuitive, but taking a nap can actually help you be more productive. When you’re well-rested, you’re able to think more clearly and make better decisions. Plus, you have the energy to get through your to-do list without feeling drained. You’ll also sleep better at night, which means you will feel less tired during the day and are more likely to fall asleep on time. 

A study from the University of California, Berkeley found that a 30-minute nap improved participants’ performance on tasks that required them to be alert and vigilant by 54%.

8. Increases alertness

Feeling drowsy? A quick nap can help increase your alertness and improve your mood. In fact, studies have shown that a 20-30 minute nap can help improve alertness and reaction time. So next time you’re feeling groggy, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, try taking a power nap!

A study from NASA found that a 26-minute nap improved performance by 34% and increased alertness by 100%. Another study found that naps can help restore mental alertness for up to three hours.

9. Helps with weight loss

When you’re trying to lose weight, every little bit helps. And research has shown that one of those little things is taking a nap. In fact, a study published in the journal Obesity found that people who took a 30-minute nap every day lost an average of 3% of their body weight over the course of six months! Some experts say it’s because while we sleep, our body releases hormones that are known to decrease appetite and increase feelings of fullness.

When you’re trying to lose weight, every little bit helps. And research has shown that one of those little things is taking a nap. In fact, a study published in the journal Obesity found that people who took a 30-minute nap every day lost an average of 3% of their body weight over the course of six months! Some experts say it’s because while we sleep, our body releases hormones that are known to decrease appetite and increase feelings of fullness. It also raises levels of peptide YY, which is thought to suppress hunger. It might even help prevent diabetes:

10. Relieves tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and usually feel like a tight band around your forehead. They can be caused by stress, dehydration, or muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to get rid of a tension headache: take a nap, drink lots of water, and massage your temples. When you nap, your body relaxes, and the muscles loosen, providing relief from pain.

Tips for Taking a Restful Power Nap

Set a timer

One of the best ways to make sure you get a good nap is to set the alarm. This way, you can ensure that you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and rested. Plus, it’ll help you avoid oversleeping and waking up feeling groggy. A good nap can range anywhere between 10 minutes to 45 minutes. Any longer and you risk falling into a deep sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy and disoriented.

Get alone

Being able to relax and not worry about being disturbed is critical for falling asleep. If you can, find a place where you can be alone and undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. This may mean going to a quiet room in your house or even taking a nap in your car during your lunch break.

Stay warm

A warm environment is key for optimal napping. Make sure the room you’re napping in is dark, quiet, and has a comfortable temperature. Consider using an eye mask and earplugs to block out light and sound. And if you can, curl up under a cozy blanket—this will help your body relax.

Dark is better

The key to a good nap is to make sure your environment is as dark as possible. This means closing blinds or curtains and wearing an eye mask if necessary. You want your brain to associate darkness with sleep, so that it will be more likely to doze off when you close your eyes.

Choose the right time

The best time to take a nap is actually pretty individualized. Generally, napping between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. will work best for most people, as this is when our natural body clock starts to dip. Napping earlier may prolong the time you need to fall asleep, while napping later will interfere with your nighttime sleep pattern.

But if you’re a night owl or early riser, you may find that taking a nap earlier or later in the day works better for you.

Calm down beforehand

To get the most out of your nap, you should try to relax before lying down. You can do this by reading, meditating, or taking some deep breaths. This will help your body and mind feel more relaxed, making it easier to fall asleep. Make sure your environment is conducive to sleep:

What Are The Drawbacks Of Napping?

While napping can be beneficial to your health, doing it the wrong way may impact your health negatively.

Some undesirable effects of napping include:

  • Sleep inertia – this refers to the transition from sleep to being awake. It’s a normal part of the waking process, often associated with reduced vigilance, impaired performance, and the desire to go back to sleep. This may last for some minutes and sometimes hours
  • Nighttime sleep problems – if you struggle to fall asleep at night, napping may worsen the situation. Taking long naps of more than an hour, especially in the afternoon, may alter your circadian rhythms, making it difficult to sleep at night.
  • Taking long naps may promote inflammation and increase your risk of heart disease and early mortality.

Final Thoughts

A nap is a short period of sleep taken briefly during the day, usually between 1 pm and 3 pm for anything between 10 – 45 minutes.

Napping regularly can offer various health benefits, including improving memory, promoting cognitive functions, boosting immunity, promoting heart health, reducing anxiety, and fighting cravings.

However, napping for too long may cause negative effects such as a lack of sleep at night, increased risk of inflammation and chronic conditions like heart disease, increased early mortality rate, and sleep inertia.

Nonetheless, napping with your health in mind can help you set boundaries and avoid overdoing it. For instance, you can set the alarm to remind you it’s enough for the day.

Also, ensure you nap in a dark and comfortable place to enhance the quality of your nap.

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  3. Tips For Better Mental Health
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  5. Best Foods For Stress Relief

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