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The Benefits of Napping

“It’s nap time” may be one of the most rewarding phrases in the human language…ever. There’s nothing better than curling up in bed after a long exam, staying up late or just because you need a break. As humans, we’re monophasic sleepers, meaning that we snooze for part of the day and stay awake for the other part. However, we’re the minority: about 85 percent of mammalian species sleep for short periods throughout the day, making them polyphasic sleepers.

Why do we force ourselves to stay awake for a majority of the day, and then crash for the rest? Babies nap, the elderly nap…why don’t we nap more often? There are certainly benefits to napping that are often overlooked in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of our lives. Well, HC readers, it’s about time we slow down, crawl under the covers and shut our eyelids for a short slumber. Here’s why.

  1. Naps improve our alertness and focus. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a 20-30 minute nap is typically recommended to improve our short-term alertness. Napping for this brief period of time has proven beneficial for improved alertness, performance, and focus and won’t leave you groggy or mess with your nighttime sleep schedule.
  2. Naps prevent us from making mistakes. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved their performance by 34% and alertness by 100%. Hence, naps kept them from making mistakes…meaning that naps will do the same for us.

  3. Naps rejuvenate us. The psychological benefits from naps are real: taking a nap means letting your mind wander to a happy place and a relaxed state. After a day of working hard, your brain will thank you.

  4. Naps help us stay safe on the road.  The National Sleep Foundation reported that taking a 20-minute nap before a long drive increases your alertness. So before you take a road trip with your friends, be sure to catch some zzz’s!

While naps clearly do have their benefits, they also have some negative effects. Naps can leave us disoriented, groggy and confused if we take one for too long. Also, if we nap too late in the day (i.e. after dinner), it can affect our nighttime sleep schedule.

So, what’s the best thing to do? Nap for 20 minutes or 1 hr. and 30 minutes (one full sleep cycle) between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. From a short mid-day nap, you’ll reap the benefits and will feel fresh, ready to take on the rest of the day.

SOURCE: http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/napping/page/0%2C2/


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