Health Benefits of Napping
In our fast-paced world, many of us struggle with getting enough sleep. One great way to squeeze in some more shut-eye – and increase alertness and mood – is through regular napping.
Read on to learn about the truly amazing health benefits of napping and how to fit it into your schedule!
Napping has many great health benefits
Napping has gotten a bad rap in the past. For years, many people thought that napping was a sign of being unproductive or lazy. But now we know that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Think of napping as rebooting your brain. It’s a necessary part of your mental and physical well-being, giving you renewed power to think clearly, work efficiently and feel great. Some of the top benefits of napping include:
- Boosting your immune system – Sleep is an integral part of how the body repairs itself, cleans out toxins and rejuvenates. Even short naps of 30 minutes or less can help boost your immune system by allowing your body more time to do this critical job.
- Improving physical stamina – Weakness and fatigue are often signs of inadequate sleep and exhaustion. Studies have shown that people feel physically stronger and more motivated to exercise after a good nap.
- Reducing stress – Sleep helps reduce stress and anxiety, which is why it’s so important to get a solid 7-9 hours per night. But our days are loaded with more information and expectations than ever before. This can make it difficult at night to fall asleep, or stay asleep, and may keep us in a constant state of unhealthy stress. A power nap or two throughout the day can help make up for lost sleep at night, providing a much-needed release of stress and worry.
- Aiding in weight loss – Numerous studies have linked lack of sleep with weight gain. When we’re sleep-deprived, our bodies tend to crave sugary or processed carbohydrates that will give us quick bursts of energy to stay awake. If you notice that you’re craving junk food during the day, check in with yourself before you grab that snack – it may just be that you’re simply tired and need a brief nap.
- Increasing alertness & productivity – The typical weekday can be mentally and physically draining, even if you are running on a decent night’s sleep. Our minds go through natural peaks and slumps throughout our wakeful hours. Instead of trying to plod through a slump with a fuzzy, distracted brain, take a quick nap instead. You’ll wake up far more alert and productive, ready to tackle whatever you were working on before your slumber.
How to Take a Productive Nap
So how should you go about napping? Here’s what to know about taking a productive nap – one that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to go:
- The key to power napping is to keep it short – 15 to 20 minutes is the ideal duration to bolster energy and heighten alertness.
- Set an alarm for your nap. If it takes you a little while to fall asleep, factor that into how you set your alarm (i.e., set your alarm for 35 minutes if it takes you 15 minutes to fall asleep).
- Too long a nap can cause grogginess, so resist the temptation to hit snooze when your alarm goes off.
- The benefits of a nap can even last for several hours afterward.
- A nap taken during the usual post-lunch slump, usually around 1:30 or 2 p.m., can significantly improve how you work for the rest of the day, until bedtime.
- For a great nap, find a restful, cool, dark place to lie down, without any noise or distraction. You may also want to use a sleep mask and/or earplugs to help create this environment.
- Use trial and error to work out what kind of nap suits you best, and then stick with it as often as you can for best results.