After the age of grade school, naps come as a welcome break from the day. They offer a quick and enjoyable way to get energized … and all while being able to zone out from work, or whatever other responsibilities are on your plate. Additionally, many doctors agree that a routine nap can help increase alertness and allow for a better sleeping routine each night. Depending on the person, a daily nap might also be the pick-me-up that helps get them through the rest of the day with ample amounts of energy. It’s simply a personal preference.
But what is the science behind naps? And why do they receive positive reviews from some, while other studies say they can in fact hurt your nightly sleeping habits? After all, it’s just sleep. But with so many reviews coming in with so many different results, it’s hard to know which are correct. Not to mention which path you should actually follow.
So when it comes to naps, how do we know if they’re good or bad? And what steps should we follow for ourselves?
Health Perks of Taking Naps
When tired or needing a boost of energy, naps have been proven to offer a quick fix. Even when “resting one’s eyes,” this time set aside for lying down and relaxing can act as a way to provide longevity for the rest of the day. Those who are able to sleep can also find perks from having rested their body for even a short amount of time. But whether actually looking to fall asleep or just laying down for a few minutes, afternoon naps should be kept under an hour. While each person will have different preferences as to how long the actual event takes place, much longer and the body becomes more tired than it does rested from its time of zoning out.
Additional perks include a better rested body, especially muscles which might remain tense during work or various activities. As well as the ability to essentially “shut off” the brain for a few minutes. Whether or not we realize it, our minds constantly race throughout the day, and taking even a few minutes to alter our focus can do wonders for how well one can function.
Finally, taking a nap might help make the body feel more energetic. It’s a quick fix for feeling tired, and can provide a simple boost of energy without “catching up” on any missed sleep.
Negative Side Effects of Napping
Depending on one’s sleeping schedule, taking a nap might actually affect how well one can rest at night. If the body receives too much sleep during the day, or simply enough to throw off their sleeping routine, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to gain a solid night of sleep. Additionally, if you sleep for too long during a nap, you can actually wake up feeling more tired than when you started. Because the body sleeps in cycles, waking before the brain can complete each section can leave one feeling more tired and drowsy than before they went to sleep.
Taking naps too frequently can also train the body to expect sleep throughout the day, creating an environment for drowsy or irritable behavior if it can’t be had.
Depending on your personality and sleeping habits, a nap might just provide more pros than cons. To determine which schedule is best, however, experiment with different times and lengths of naps. Once finding a combination that best works with your body, you can work to recreate this energy boosting setup as often as possible.