Why Taking a Nap Whenever You Can May be a Good Thing
Many find that a nap during the course of a long day can be very restorative. It may be because of a need to catch up on lost sleep during a disturbed night or just the need to power up to get on with the rest of a busy day.
Historically, there were several famous nappers including Sir Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci. And look what they went on to achieve!
Sadly, in our busy modern lives, there is often no time to squeeze in a nap or "forty winks".
During recent lockdown sessions when many have had to work from home, it has become a bit of a habit to enjoy a power nap. Will they find it hard to stop such naps if and when they return to an office environment?
Sharing tips for daytime naps
- If you are using your lunch break for a nap, and need to be alert as soon as it ends, power naps of ten to thirty minutes are recommended.
- Avoid longer naps as these may need to drowsiness. Drinking a mug of coffee before the nap can help to avoid the drowsiness.
- Lengthier naps are more restorative and beneficial for learning, improving activation of the hippocampus (that area of the brain that is important for learning and memory).
- An afternoon nap of one to two hours will benefit the motor skills and the ability to recall facts and events.
What has recent research shown?
A recent study carried out in China found that regular afternoon napping was linked to improved cognitive function in older adults. The research was carried out on two thousand plus over-seventies who were asked about their own napping habits before testing their memory and language skills. Researchers found that those who usually napped were less likely to have cognitive impairments than those who did not - regardless of their age or level of education.
A similar study found that those who napped for thirty to ninety minutes had better overall cognition when compared to (a) those who napped for longer or shorter periods or to (b) those who did not nap at all.
Researchers wonder whether it could be that napping helps the brain clean up sleep-inducing waste products that would otherwise inhibit brain activity - and replenish the brain's energy stores.
Some words of warning
As daytime naps may make it harder to fall asleep at night time, the practice is not usually recommended for those who suffer from insomnia.
Such naps should also be avoided if optimal performance is going to be needed immediately afterwards.
Don't feel guilty!
If you find your attention span is not what it should be later in the day or early in the afternoon, think about have a nap if you possibly can. You may be pleasantly surprised at how revitalized you become!
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Sleep-wake disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. (Accessed, Feb 11, 2021).
Sleep disorders: The connection between sleep and mental health. National Alliance on Mental Health. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Sleep-Disorders. (Accessed, Feb 11, 2021).