Have you ever felt so run down that you just had to take a nap? I don’t really enjoy naps because they make me feel groggy and gross, but sometimes it has to be done. Did you know that there’s a right and wrong way to take a quick snooze? Yup, it’s true. Studies have shown that you should not nap for more than 20 minutes at a time because it can put you into REM sleep, which isn’t the best for feeling refreshed. If you prefer, you can cut it down to about 10-12 minutes, but it might not make you feel rested enough.
Some people may argue that naps aren’t good for you and that they only make your energy levels worse, but they’re sadly mistaken. Napping has quite a few benefits to it including short-term memory boosts, relaxation when you’re stressed and more. Let’s check out what all the benefits of napping are and get you on the right track to successful short-term snoozing.
What Is Napping?
I’m sure you already know, but napping is nothing more than a brief sleep that helps recharge your brain and body. It can be done in just a short amount of time or longer if needed.
How To Properly Nap
It seems silly, but there are proper and improper types of naps. I know I got into this briefly earlier, but I want to explain to you how you should properly nap, allowing you to get the most energy.
Pick A Napping Style
Depending on what kind of person you are, how stressed you may be and how tired you are, you can pick and choose how long your naps last for. It’s best to try to snooze for about 20-30 minutes. This will help your body refresh itself without giving you sleep inertia or disrupting your nighttime sleeping routine. Your body will stay in a lighter sleep mode rather than going into REM sleep. This is a deeper sleep that is going to make you feel even more tired after you wake up and you might not be as productive as you hoped. You can play around with nap times to see how long you can go without going into REM sleep and what time frames will give you the best results.
Where To Nap
If you find yourself getting sleepy at work, especially during night shifts, which happened to roughly 29% of people in a sleep study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, go out to your car and take a power nap. Workplaces usually aren’t “nap friendly”, but if you can get away with taking a quick snooze at your desk, go for it, but don’t get in trouble. Your best bet is to use your car to avoid being reprimanded.
If you’re on the road and you start feeling groggy, stop into a rest area, don’t park on the shoulder. If it’s nighttime, make sure you are in a well-lit area where there are people and keep your doors locked. You should never continue to drive if you are starting to get tired because it’s a safety hazard to you and everybody on the road around you.
Getting tired at school? I’ve been there a lot. My suggestion is to wait until you can get into the library and take a quick power nap there. It’s the quietest place in the school, especially college. Don’t skip classes, though.
Setting Up Your Nap Place
When you’re ready to take your nap, pick a dark room. Blocking out the light will help you fall asleep quicker. If it’s not possible to get into a dark room, get yourself a sleep mask. This will give you artificial darkness. These are also great for migraine sufferers who need instant darkness.
Find The Right Temperature
Whoever thought adult napping was so frustrating. If it’s too hot or too cold, chances are you aren’t going to sleep very well or you might have problems falling asleep. It’s recommended that the temperature of room or the area in which you want to nap stays between 60 and 67 degrees fahrenheit.
If you can’t control the temperature or you have limited means of doing so, keep a blanket or comfortable jacked handy and maybe even a little portable fan to keep your face cool. If you’re anything like me, you may find it impossible to sleep without some kind of white noise. In this case, install a white noise app on your phone or invest in one of those white noise machines.
Don’t feel like playing with nap numbers? Here’s a few suggestions when it comes to nap times.
This is an effective nap time for when you are so tired that you just can’t continue doing what you’re doing. I am absolutely notorious for doing this. Nano-naps are a good way to try to deal with some of this sleepiness. Lay your head down in a safe place and set a timer for 2-5 minutes and hope for the best.
This optimal & recommended nap time frame is best for increasing your motor performance, stamina, and increasing alertness. These are called mini-naps and work best when you have a couch or bed to lay on rather than a desk.
This is the average nap time for adults. These types mid-day naps help rid the brain of information that’s unnecessarily stored in your short-term memory. These types of power naps also improve muscle memory and the ability to remember more important facts, especially if you have a test to take.
If you want to go through the complete sleep cycle in just short amount of time, this “lazy man’s nap” is a long nap that allows your body to reach REM sleep. This type of snooze is best for those who both physically and mentally tired. This type of sleep gives your body the proper time needed to repair itself.
You may want to read: Sleep Cycle Naps
Are Naps Good For You?
Naps are absolutely good for you. Although they have a lot of negative stigma, they are one of the most powerful tools when it comes to self-improvement. They have the ability to increase your productivity, intelligence, health and well-being. Did you know that a lot of famous individuals were known for their naps? Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, and Napoleon were always napping whenever they could. These were some of the most intelligent people, aside from Einstein, who depended on their quick snooze sessions.
Benefits Of Napping During The Day
Napping during the day is one of the best ways to help you keep your concentration and remain alert. NASA performed a study that proved 20 minutes of napping is more effective than 200mg of caffeine and a 40 minute nap is proven to increase how alert you are by 100%. Napping for a little bit after lunchtime can help workers make less errors at their job and students can study better.
Small naps, or snaps, can reduce the negative effects or bad emotions. Stress can lead to depression, could affect your performance at work or make other people around you cranky and upset. Depression isn’t something that you want to subject yourself for others to.
Not sleeping enough can result in less productivity and performance. In terms of students, especially college students, napping will help retain over loaded information. Napping has the ability to improve memory and if you have the time to take an hour to 90 minute nap, your mental fatigue can disappear.
Napping regularly can greatly help improve your sensory perception. It also increases your creativity, which will then boost your work performance. When you take enough naps, your intelligence and creative ideas will come out. Just like you body, your brain needs its rest as well.
It’s A Money Saver
Naps save money? Yes they do! Rather than spending odd amounts of money on energy drinks or Starbucks, even though Starbucks is delicious, you can take a nap and naturally boost your energy levels more effectively.
You may be interested in: Should I Power Nap at Work?
Health Benefits Of Napping
Sure, snoozing here and there is going to make you mentally and emotionally feel better, but did you know that it can also be healthy for you in terms of your heart and muscles. If you are lacking sleep, it can lead to excess cortisol, which can then lead to a glucose intolerance and an increase in abdominal fat. Deprivation in sleep or napping can trigger diabetes and heart disease.
You see, your growth hormone only releases when you sleep and prevents you from certain health ailments. Not only that, but it helps with muscle repair and weight loss. A study was done with Greek individuals and it showed that those who napped for 30 minutes were less likely to suffer a heart condition. Without napping, working men have a 64% more risk of dying from a heart condition.
Immune System Improvement
Go ahead and rest yourself, because doing so can help you immune and neuroendocrine systems recover better. A 30-minute nap can help reverse the impact on your hormones of a poor night of sleep. A study was conducted in 11 healthy men between 25 and 32 over 3-day sessions. The first session had the men limited to only two hours of sleep. The second section allowed two hours of sleep, but the third day, these men were allowed to take two 30-minute naps throughout the day. Each one of these sessions allowed for eight-hours of sleep and the last night there was unlimited sleep.
After each day, the saliva and hormone levels of each man were measured to see how napping or not napping had an affect on them. Studies showed that after a two-hour night of sleep, they had a 2.5 fold increase in their levels of norepinephrine, which is part of stress and increases the body’s heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. It was also shown that their levels of interleukin-6 dropped, which is a protein with antiviral elements, after one night of no sleep. Participants who napped showed normal levels.
It Lifts Your Spirits
Have you ever been in contact with anybody who’s sleep deprived? They aren’t the most cheerful person are they? Even if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re probably moody. A quick nap is an extreme mood booster, no matter how old you are. This is why when you encounter a sleepy toddler, you put them down for a nap and their mood is suddenly better.
Reduces Information Overload
A lot of times, people avoid taking a nap because they feel like they have too much to do. If you put in too many hours during the day without any rest, it can dramatically decrease your productivity. It has been shown that when people don’t nap, their performance on the task they do is deteriorated. However, those who take a 30-minute nap halted the performance deterioration. Those who took a one hour nap saw an improvement in their performance.
Boosts Sex Drive
Lack of sleep can have a very bad effect on somebody’s libido. Ladies, this one is for you. If you get just an hour more of sleep each day from napping, your likelihood of having sex is increased by 14 percent. Okay, so I guess this one was for the men, too. Let’s face it, if you’re tired, you aren’t going to want to be involved in any sexual activity. Your main concern will be getting to sleep at a decent time rather than having a little bit of fun beforehand.
Decreased Chance Of Weight Gain
A Stanford University study found that if you lack sleep, it triggers gherkin, which is a hormone that makes you want to eat more. It also lowers the level of leptin, which is the hormone that tells you you’re full. So, without sleep, you eat more and your body can’t tell you when you’ve had enough
Studies have shown that just one night without a good rest can worsen arguments between you and your partner, or even your co-workers. You will become less accurate when it comes to reading emotions and you’re more likely to become more cranky.
No More indiscriminate Mistakes
Have you ever suffered from beer goggles? Sleep deprivation has pretty much the same effect. When men are sleep deprived, they found women to be more attractive and were more interested in casual sex. It does this by interfering with the frontal lobe of your brain, which is responsible for impulse control, sexual behavior, social behavior, and judgement.
Protection For That Erection
Sleeping less than five hours per day can decrease your testosterone levels by 10-15 percent, according to a study done by the University of Chicago. When you lack testosterone, you can suffer from weaker sperm, difficulty obtaining an erection and a lower sex drive. Sleep is core for testosterone production and if you don’t get enough of it, your body will produce other chemicals that will continue to mess with your testosterone. Protect that erection by taking naps when tired.
It Keeps You Sane
Sleep deprivation is a scary thing, which is why you need to nap when you feel it’s necessary. It can cause you to develop fake memories. A study was conducted by the University of California that observed those who did not get enough sleep. The study showed that those who did not get enough shuteye saw imaginary details in pictures after they were just read those details in a separate narrative after the fact. People who didn’t get enough sleep before the narrative didn’t have that problem. Those who don’t get adequate sleep can have their brain jumbled, causing some confusion.
It Reduces Anxiety
Anxiety is a scary thing, trust me on this. I am an anxiety sufferer and when I don’t get enough sleep, it only gets worse. Another study done by the University of California showed that when people weren’t getting enough sleep, they have a lot more activity in the areas of the brain that are associated with anxiety. The study also warns that those who lack sleep are at a greater risk for developing an anxiety disorder. Taking naps can help reduce your level of fatigue, reducing your level of anxiety.
It Can Prevent Dementia
Lacking sleep can lead to Alzheimer’s disease according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. They studied a group of individuals and those who did not have enough sleep had greater deposits of B-Amyloid, which is a plaque associated with the disease. When you sleep, even if it’s just a mini-nap, your brain cleans itself, removing those plaques.
Skin Is Better
If you’re one for perfect skin, you’ll want to start napping. Sleep deprived individuals have more fine lines, loose skin, and uneven skin tones. If you stay up all night, you may age faster because your skin won’t repair itself.
Repair From An All-Nighter
Did you pull an all-nighter? I’ve been there and I was exhausted all day. If you’re lacking sleep, it can physically make you sick. Luckily, if you take a nap, you can regenerate yourself. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that men who napped for 30-minutes twice a day were able to reset their stress-hormone levels.
You’re Less Of A Jerk
Lack of sleep can lower your self-control, making you a jerk. You’ll find yourself yelling for no reason, being unreasonable, cranky, and all around mean. So, for everybody’s sake, take a nap and don’t be that guy.
You may want to read: Link Between Napping and Blood Pressure
If you think napping is the lazy way to get through the day, it’s not. Napping has many health benefits, as seen above. It’s helpful for the heart, brain, skin, and immune system. Not to mention, it’s a huge money saver because you won’t be spending your cash on energy supplements. The best way to nap is to lay on a comfortable mattress and snooze for 20-minutes. It’s vital to your health and sex life that you get enough sleep, even if it means taking a quick nap at your desk, in your car or in your home.