The Benefits of Napping
“Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.”Winston Churchill
It took about 50 years, but we’re finally coming around on the secret that made Churchill’s famous 16 hour workdays possible: daily naps.
Naps are no longer seen as a habit of the lazy and unmotivated. They have become a popular way to re-energize ourselves for the day ahead. A study by the Pew Research Center found that one-third of Americans nap every day. Even productivity-focused companies like Google, Uber, and Zappos have dedicated napping areas for their employees.
So if you want to avoid that mid-afternoon energy slump, and are tired of the crash that comes with coffee and energy drinks, a daily nap could be just what you need. This article will explain what exactly makes naps so great, and also show you how to start (effectively) napping yourself.
Continue reading to understand how and why you should practice daily naps. When you decide it’s time to give napping a try, you might also consider a daily dose of CBD; it can promote a calm and relaxed mood which will make midday naps easier! Read here to learn how CBD may improve sleep overall.
When it comes to naturally improving your mental performance, nothing gives you more bang for your buck than sleep. We also know that not getting enough sleep can have major negative health effects. Therefore it makes sense that naps (sort of like ‘miniature’ sleep) would hold benefits as well.
Sure, coffee and energy drinks might make you feel less tried, but that energy can come at a cost (and a crash). Naps actually improve memory, mental focus, and learning comprehension. A German study found that even a six-minute midday nap was enough to significantly boost memory recall.
Other studies have also shown that naps can also improve logical reasoning, reaction time and symbol recognition. These are improvements that any of us could use, whether in the office or at home. However, you can understand why it would be especially useful for those operating heavy machinery – like driving a forklift or flying a plane.
How long should I nap for?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 20 minutes as a sufficient amount of time to get the full mental and physical benefits of a nap. To understand why, we first need to know how our bodies sleep.
Whether we’re taking a short daytime nap or sleeping all night, our bodies sleep pattern remains the same. This pattern is made up of 90 minutes “sleep cycles” that begin with a phase of light sleep, gradually progressing into a deep sleep phase, then back to light sleep before restarting.
This cyclical structure is the reason why 20 minute naps are so recommended – we wake up while still in light sleep, feeling refreshed and energized. After about 20 minutes our bodies go into a deeper sleep. After 90 minutes we enter the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage, which is the “deepest” sleep where we begin dreaming.
Duration is key
The reason why 30-60 minute naps are not recommended is because we’d be interrupting our deep sleep phase. Waking up from deep sleep is harder to adjust to and results in “sleep inertia”, a drowsy feeling that can take up to 30 minutes to wear off. (If you’ve sworn off naps in the past because you felt more tired afterwards, this is probably why).
But, if you continue to sleep until the end of the sleep cycle, you’ll be back to light sleep and can wake up without sleep inertia. These 90 minutes naps provide even more benefits than 20 minute naps (though their length makes them more difficult to schedule around).
Since duration is so important, make sure to use an alarm or a dedicated napping app to make sure you don’t exceed your desired nap length.
Still not convinced?
We get it. The idea of adopting a napping routine can seem inconvenient, especially if you work in a traditional office environment. But considering the increased productivity at stake – and for such a small time investment – it could be worth discussing options with your employer. Why should someone feel ashamed to nap for 20 minutes during an hour lunch break, as opposed to aimlessly browsing the internet the entire time?
If you still feel like your current non-napping routine is fine the way it is, consider this: a 2009 study from the Brock Sleep Research Laboratory showed that even well-rested individuals who get a full 8-hours of sleep at night see cognitive improvement from napping.
So even if you’re satisfied with your current mental performance, you might as well try the occasional nap and find out if it benefits you!