Is napping good for you?

Author: ANCP   Date Posted:7 July 2015 

Do you find yourself short on nightly sleep? Does your bed beckon during the day? Are you concerned that if you nap, you won't sleep at night? Have no worries! Napping is healthy. Here's how to get some daytime winks and recharge your batteries.

Benefits of a Siesta:

Sleep scientists cite the following benefits of a siesta.

A nap:

  • Reduces stress.
  • Averts accidents.
  • Increases alertness.
  • Sparks creativity.
  • Enhances productivity.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Improves memory

Moreover, the perks of a power nap can last for 2.5 hours!

Disease Prevention:

Lest you think you're being lazy by taking a nap, consider this. Sleep deficit can significantly impact your health. It pays to invest some time in rest.

3 Types of Zzzzs:

Naps fall into three categories:

  • Preparatory - This involves taking a nap before feeling sleepy. It can safeguard your sanity when awake past your normal bedtime.
  • Habitual - This snooze is taken at the same time daily.
  • Emergency - When you're about to crash from utter fatigue, you have no choice but to catch some Zzzzs. Taking this type of nap can protect you from the dangers of drowsy driving or operating hazardous equipment on insufficient sleep.

Sleep Stages:

There are five stages of slumber. Stages 1 and 2 are categorized as "light sleep." Taking a nap during these two stages bestows ideal benefits.

The Magic Numbers:

For the best catnap, plan your rest in these time segments:

  • 10 minutes - Stage 1 - This stint can improve brain function and resolve fatigue.
  • 20 minutes - Stage 2 - Sleeping somewhat beyond this sets you up for a groggy awakening. The optimal Zzzz zone is during the second stage of sleep, between 10-20 minutes. This is when your body relaxes and your mind processes memories.
  • 90 minutes - If you're especially tired and have time, aim for this duration. It will allow you to enter Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep. This is the third stage of sleep. It's when we do the most dreaming.

Although the greatest perks occur with a nap of 10, 20, or 90 minutes, even a 6-minute respite can boost memory.

Scheduling a Nap:

The best time to sneak in a snooze is between 1:00-3:00 pm. If you nap later than 3.00pm, it can disrupt your nighttime sleep.

The Ideal Environment:

To facilitate napping, the environment should be quiet, dark, and cool. You may need some props to achieve this, such as an eye mask and ear plugs. You'll also want to set an alarm, to target the best nap windows of 10, 20, or 90 minutes. Regarding optimal temperature, this varies by individual. The standard recommendation is between 18-22 degrees Celsius. If the temperature is within your control, aim for your comfort level.

If Sleep Eludes You:

If the sleep fairy is slow in arriving, you can summon her presence by:

  • Picturing a peaceful scene.
  • Inhaling the scent of lavender, jasmine, or sandalwood.
  • Doing progressive muscle relaxation, consciously releasing muscle tension from head to toe.

Fitting a Nap into the Workday:

How do you find a place to nap if you work away from home? Here are some strategies:

  • If you have the luxury of your own office, you can close the door, dim the lights, and lean back in your chair.
  • If your company has a conference room that's not off limits, take a seat and rest your head on the table.
  • If you have a park in proximity, stretch out on a bench.
  • Set up your car like a cocoon.
  • If your company is on the cutting edge of management practices, your workplace may have a nap room.

Follow the Leaders:

Here in Australia, we would do well to observe the nap habits of other laid-back nations. Napping is an established practice in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Greece, China, and Japan. Roughly 40-60 percent of the world's adult population engages in napping.

Be Sleep Smart: 

Napping can make you one smart cookie. It can boost your memory and energy. Don't hesitate to make napping a routine part of your day. It can give you the winning advantage at work, school, and play.