6 Reasons Naps Are Beneficial [National Napping Day]

Kirk Parsley
March 11, 2021

It is essential to get regular, consistent, quality sleep. But sometimes, it doesn’t happen. When it doesn’t, a nap can make a huge difference in the rest of your day. Even if you did get enough sleep the night before, you can still benefit from a midday snooze. You can also plan naps strategically to your advantage depending on your goals. Are you looking for a good excuse to take a nap? Here are 6 reasons why you should consider taking a nap right now:

Napping on a tree

Planned Nap (Prophylactic Nap)

A planned nap can work for anyone but works especially well as a strategy for shift workers. Scheduling a nap in advance of an evening where you need to be awake can help improve your performance and alertness. This type of nap is sometimes called a prophylactic nap. Basically, if you know you need to be up all night, taking a nap prior to this can help improve your performance during this period of sustained wakefulness. It’s important to note, most studies related to the impact of this type of nap also included the administration of caffeine. Nonetheless, while caffeine might certainly help, a 1995 study showed “naps provided longer and less graded changes in performance, mood and alertness than did caffeine.”

Nap For Recovery

Loss of sleep can leave you feeling groggy, irritable and make it just plain hard to concentrate. Making time for a nap the next day after interrupted sleep can make all the difference in your energy levels and ability to get things done. There is strong evidence that shows our brains benefit from an actual nap (not just a quiet period) to help restore alertness and recover from fatigue. As far as deciding how long to nap, either a short or a long nap can help increase alertness. Check out Do Naps Affect Nighttime Sleep to get a breakdown of different nap durations and their effects.

Nap To Maintain a Routine

Habitual naps are especially important for children who have greater sleep needs than adults. A nap can supplement nightly sleep for kids who struggle with it, but also help those that are getting a full night of sleep to be more attentive and cooperative during the day. Scheduling a regular nap for kids will help keep them from being overtired as well, which can make it even harder for them to fall asleep at night. For a deeper dive into naps for children, read When Should I Stop Scheduling Nap Time for my Kids?

Nap for better immunity

Chronic sleep deprivation takes a toll on your immune functions by increasing inflammatory cytokines, and stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. Studies have shown that naps following a night (or several) of restricted sleep can help get those levels closer to normal. If you are sick, you need to be getting as much rest as possible. But sometimes when you don’t feel good your nighttime sleep is interrupted, in which case, a nap is the next best option.

Nap to Improve mental alertness and memory

After a busy morning many suffer from mental fatigue and feel drained as the afternoon approaches. The midday slump is normal, and most reach for that cup of coffee. But why not a nap, instead? Drinking caffeine late in the day will affect your nighttime sleep, but a nap on the other hand well help boost your mental alertness so you can power through the rest of your day. Even a short nap will help you increase your energy, but if you have time for a longer one you have the added benefit of activating your hippocampus – a part of your brain important for learning and memory. A number of studies have shown subjects have better recall and associative memory after a nap compared to those who don’t take an afternoon siesta.

Nap to boost physical stamina

Naps can also benefit your sports or athletic performance. There is significant research to support this, for example a study found that runners who napped for a half hour performed better in 20-meter sprints. Whether you are a weightlifter, a competitive rower, or just really enjoy running, a nap is a great tool for training as well as on game day. In addition to reducing sleepiness from overtraining or a generally hectic schedule, the improved mental acuity and sharpness from a nap can give you enough of an edge to hit that personal best or win the match.

So, the next time someone tells you to skip a nap, or makes you feel like you are lazy for wanting one, you know otherwise. The only reason to skip a nap is if it is too close to bedtime (within 3 hours). What are you waiting for? Put on the sleep mask and have a snooze.

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