The Benefits of Napping

A nap is essentially a short sleep during the day. Here's what you need to know about the benefits of sleeping during the day and how the power of an afternoon nap can potentially help you.

It might surprise you to learn how common taking a nap during the day actually is. As many as a third of all adults claim to nap, perhaps not every day, but at least every now and again. Whilst babies and young children up to the age of 5 are known to nap regularly if not every day. When it comes to adults, the more male you are, and the older you are, the more common it is to nap apparently. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Leonardo Da Vinci are some of the most notable nappers from the history books. So what is it that they, and a third of all adults, seem to know, that the rest of us may not. There are certainly many benefits of napping, but to what you extent you napping is for you, really does depend on you, your life, and your overall relationship with sleep.

Unless you’re a little sleepy, it will probably come as no surprise that a nap during the day will leave you feeling less sleepy after your nap than you were before. And being less sleepy is generally a preferred state, we’re sure you’d agree. When you’re less sleepy you’ll complete whatever tasks you need to complete with more focus and more accuracy. You’ll also learn better when you’re less sleepy. You may also know, that if you’re tired your memory tends to not work so well, and you may have trouble remembering things. Things that may be important to remember. When we’re refreshed from sleep we’re also more likely to be emotionally resilient, less likely to get upset by circumstances or situations that could get the better of us when we’re tired.  

The first and most obvious occasion to avail of a nap is those days for one reason or another when you didn’t have a good night’s sleep. In that instance a nap around midday or a little later in the afternoon can help you stay alert and make it through the full day till it’s time to hit the hay that night.

In fact there is a correlation between people who nap and people who, either don’t sleep very well, or very deeply, and those who typically sleep for a shorter than recommended number of hours at night. People who take frequent naps can certainly help to compensate for their lack of sleep, and feel less sleepy and perform better later on in the day. Many people take naps pretty much every day, which makes sense in some respects, given that us humans tend to be creatures of habit and function better when we stick to a regular and predictable routine. Whereas others avail or naps less frequently, only when they really do need them, as opposed to making them a constant feature of their day.

Naps certainly aren’t for everyone, whether it’s every day or even just occasionally. If you have trouble sleeping generally, or often suffer from insomnia, making naps part of your daily routine may not be the idea. For those who feel that an afternoon nap can affect your ability to sleep well that night, but you feel that you might actually  benefit from a nap, it can be worth trying different times for your nap. A nap late morning for example could be the secret to the perfect level of alertness throughout the day without disrupting your night time sleep. In addition to the time of your nap, another aspect to adjust and toy with over time, is the duration of your nap. Even champion sleepers run the risk of affecting their night time sleep by overdoing it in the napping stakes during the day.

If you reach the end of your day and you feel like you’ve gone ten rounds in the boxing ring, despite being tired, if you’re unable to unwind you may find it difficult to drift off to sleep. A nap during the day can be the perfect strategy. A timeout to calm your mind, leaving you better equipped to take on the rest of the day and less likely to be like a coiled spring come the end of it.

As mentioned, when you opt to take your nap can be all important, but so too is the length of your nap. Try to keep it to less than 20 minutes. Experts suggest that this is the optimum duration. Long enough to be restorative, and to give you an energy boost to keep you going for the rest of the day, but short enough to not leave you sleep and drowsy. In addition to increased risk of night time sleep disruption, napping for an hour or longer during the day has been linked to some pretty serious negative mental and physical health risks such as depression and diabetes.