Do you love a good afternoon nap? If so you’re in good company, according to a study by the Pew Research Center one-third of Americans take a nap on a daily basis. That’s not too surprising considering that according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine one in five American adults is sleep-deprived. While napping shouldn’t replace the recommended amount of sleep of 7-9 hours per night, there are numerous health benefits to be reaped. There are different types of naps such as short power naps ranging from 15-20 minutes, 30-60 minute naps where the body begins to go into a deeper sleep state, and lastly the refresher 90-minute nap which allows the body to go through a full sleep cycle. Keep reading to find out more about these 6 surprising health benefits of napping.
Improved Mood and Emotional Health
Fatigue can lead to negative emotions such as stress, frustration, anxiety, and irritability. Research has shown that even short naps can reduce stress and anxiety and promote feelings of happiness and patience. According to Science Direct, nappers are able to tolerate frustration significantly longer than non-nappers.
Increase in Alertness and Concentration
Some people make the mistake of associating napping with laziness. However, an afternoon nap can have the opposite effect. According to the American Psychological Association, you can get nearly the same learning benefits after a 90-minute nap as an eight-hour sleep period. That doesn’t mean to slack on your good sleep habits but an afternoon nap can give your performance a boost.
Improved Physical Performance
Napping has been shown to improve physical performance. In fact, many athletes choose to nap because of the benefits. Dan McCarthy, High-Performance Consultant at USA Swimming said "Sleep is the time when the body recovers from the stresses loaded upon it, and the repair of muscle and connective tissue begins. Naps are an excellent tool for athletes in training and on game day as well."
Improved Memory Function
Have you ever found yourself feeling out of it midafternoon? Many people struggle with brain fog at some point during their day. Short naps have been shown to improve memory function. According to a study by researchers from Saarland University in Germany, a nap of around 45-60 minutes could improve learning and memory by fivefold.
Increase in Creativity
If you find yourself struggling with creativity, a nap might be exactly what you need. Naps have been shown to help you get your creative juices flowing. According to a study by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep enhances creative problem-solving. According to the study in order to reap the creative problem-solving benefits you need to nap for a minimum of one hour so your body can slip into rapid eye movement (REM).
Improved Heart Health
Napping has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health. According to the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland, those who nap once or twice a week lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease incidents such as heart attack or stroke by 48 percent!