We’ve all said it. We’ve all felt it.
It's that part of the day where we think, “If I could just close my eyes for 20 minutes, I could get through the rest of the day.”
Research shows that naps can restore alertness, improve mood and enhance performance. NASA has found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent. And, if it’s good enough for astronauts and military pilots, you know it’s good enough for us!
There are many benefits to napping in addition to what NASA discovered. It is a quick way to feel rejuvenated and relaxed as well as refocused on the task ahead. Naps can also improve learning and working memory by giving your brain a chance to rest in between complex tasks. And let’s not forget about your mood! Even a cat nap can bathe your brain in serotonin – the chemical that helps you feel content and less stressed.
If “less stressed” isn’t a good enough reason to nap, we don’t know what is!
But what are the keys to a beneficial nap that doesn’t leave you groggy and disoriented?
Just like when you sleep at night, a nap should be in a restful environment (read: not at your desk). A place that is quiet and dark, with little chance of distractions is the best. Mid afternoon is the best time for naps. We all know the post-lunch drowsiness we feel between 1-3 pm. This isn’t just because of you at a big meal at lunch or didn’t get enough sleep the night before. It’s directly correlated to your circadian rhythms and the 24-hour clock that your body functions on.
Humans are monophasic sleepers; our days are divided into two distinct periods, one for sleep and one for the wake. We are actually in the minority … 85% of mammals are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they sleep for short periods all throughout the day. Maybe that’s why they call them “cat naps”?
One of the most important things about a “good” nap is how long you rest for. Did you know that you can get different benefits depending on how long you nap for?
Check out these lengths of nap time and what the advantages are.
6 minutes: enhance memory function
10-15 minutes: the sweet spot for improved focus and productivity
20-30 minutes: great for peak performance and alertness, also sharpens motor skills
40-60 minutes: boosts brain power, stimulates creativity, improves memory and learning ability
90-120 minutes: boosts creativity and emotional/procedural memory
So next time you try to convince yourself that you don’t need that nap, remember all the benefits and let yourself take a snooze ….
sleep happily ever after …