— By Marquis Matson and Sandip Roy
Why should you nap everyday? And what is the best nap length?
Napping is not only for babies and young children, it’s also quite good for you. Naps not only fulfill the doze deficits of our sleep-deprived generation, but they also have an array of other benefits for us. Read our carefully compiled, and scientific, 6 surprising nap benefits.
For one, they can improve your memory. Even for those who usually get proper sleep at night, napping benefits in terms of mood, mental alertness, and brain performance.
Best Nap Length
- Ultra-short nap: 6 to 10 minutes
- Power nap or Catnap: 10 to 20 minutes
- Short nap: 30 to 45 minutes
- Full nap: 90 minutes
Just 6-minutes of ultra-short nap can improve your explicit memory, as research shows. For most people, however, 10 to 20 minutes of daily nap is the second best nap length.
If you’re looking for any benefit from a power nap, just keep it under 30 minutes. Because when you nap around the 30-minutes point, you wake up sleepy and groggy as you had just entered the deep sleep stage. That’s a bad feeling to have after a nap.
So, if you’re looking for a short nap that’s more than a power nap, keep definitely it more than 30 minutes; ideally, to around 45 minutes.
But if you are to give yourself a full 90 minutes to nap, then you’ll be the happiest. That’s because a full sleep cycle takes 90 minutes. In 90 minutes of sleep, you are able to go through all the stages of sleep, including the REM sleep or the dream stage sleep. This one full cycle of sleep is the best nap length, because it will get you the biggest boost in creativity, productivity, memory, and mood.
Karoshi: Death From Overwork
It’s time you stood toe-to-toe with some of the changeable factors in your environment that trigger stress in you. It might be that this modern life made you lose some of your sense of a healthy self, and you forgot to deal with the manageable baggage of stress that steers your mind and life. It’s time to take them head on — by sleeping!
All the stress-surveys conducted in the US expose perhaps the deadliest factor that inflames this situation even further, and even sparks depression – lack of rest. Now, you can handle your stress a lot better by simply fulfilling your daily sleep quota, but you don’t. You overwork at the expense of your rest hours, instead of changing your habits.
In Japan, an increasing number of people are dying at their work desk over the past few years — as a result of exhaustion from overwork. The Japanese call it karōshi — literally meaning ‘death from overwork’.
The issue of karōshi took the mainstream spotlight after the 2015 suicide of a 24-year-old employee at Dentsu Inc., sparking a national debate in Japan on the severely long working hours in the country. In the fiscal 2016, Japan saw 107 karōshi cases that included 84 suicides and suicide attempts.
Just recently, in May 2018, a Japanese health ministry panel announced a draft plan to have at least 10% of companies introduce fixed rest hours for employees by 2020, to eliminate karōshi. However, the draft did not mention how long a worker must rest.
Side Effects Of Less Rest
By definition, a nap is a short sleep during the day. An afternoon nap is our rest button.
Studies indicate that 20-90 minutes of rest per day, excluding your nighttime sleep, can protect you from many mental disorders and chronic diseases. As it turns out, people are too tired and worn out to take matters into their hands. Moreover, sadly, keeping an eye on their symptoms of tiredness is easier said than done in a busy world today.
It is estimated that companies lose approximately 11 days of productivity per year per person due to insomnia, which in financial terms can be translated into a loss of $61.3 billion – as a nation. To this end, corporate America has tried to persuade the public and employees to adopt healthier habits — as quitting smoking, eating healthier, exercising daily, sleeping better — and thus increase their output.
Indeed, there are plenty of side effects brought on by a lack of rest; find below a few of them:
- Damages your memory
- Stimulates obesity
- Triggers depression
- Reduces your productivity
- Takes away your creativity
- Makes your nervous
- Turns you into an abusive boss
6 Surprising Benefits Of A Daily Nap
Fortunately, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Taking a nap, as a stress-relieving technique, can facilitate the process of reversing these early symptoms of stress, and put you in a happier mood. By the way, happiness is the ultimate currency, as positive psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar says.
1. Naps Reduce Risk Of Heart Attacks
Companies nowadays are encouraging what was once considered a taboo – sleep on the job. Twenty to thirty minutes of rest can significantly improve a person’s productivity as well as heart health.
European Society of Cardiology discovered that a 30-minute nap could substantially reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by 10%. Moreover, they detected that a higher blood pressure is present among those participants who refuse to take a breather from work.
So, whenever you feel tired, don’t push it at the cost of your heart. Instead, take a quick break for relaxing nap.
2. Naps Cheer You Up, And Raise Your Spirits
At the end of the day, it all comes down to a simple question – Are you happy?
If not, how can you stay productive, creative and innovative? Not only that your business will suffer, but your entire family as well. It’s like a package deal because without happiness, you spread negative vibes all around you.
NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, verified this claim by testing their personnel to discover that midday naps enhanced the alertness of the astronauts and military pilots by a whopping 100%.
Companies like Google have sleep pods installed in their offices for nap breaks. But if you’re not so lucky as to be working at Google, just find a couch, turn off the lights and lie down for a midday nap — it won’t take too long for your body to refill its batteries. And make you happier!
3. A Quick Nap Can Alleviate Mental Pains
From time to time, our thoughts and sensations seem to overwhelm us. At those times, waiting for the inner storm to subside is not a very effective strategy to bring calmness into the mind. At such times, you should seek out help.
You may sometimes find it impossible to take a nap because of the intensity of the inner chatter in your brain. This can push you to the edge of exhaustion. Fortunately, the digital age provides us with a variety of solutions, such as finding help in a therapeutic mindfulness app, which can lend you a gentle hand to inviting stillness into your mind and life.
4. Naps Can Help You Handle Extreme Burnout
Many people are being misled about the actual meaning of burnout. In reality, the term doesn’t quite reflect the number of hours you spend at your desk. It rather refers to the factors that surround you, and the level of social support you get to execute a particular task.
Naps can help you handle the burnouts better. A 2015 study that appeared in the journal Personality and Individual Differences discovered that a 60-minute midday nap can help a person better control their impulses. The study said that nappers could tolerate frustration better than those who didn’t nap.
Sometimes it’s vital for you to cool off before drawing any instantaneous conclusions. Use a break time to compose yourself by closing your eyes and getting a broader perspective of your problem. Take a nap to help you with that.
5. A Midday Nap Speeds Up Muscle Recovery
Sleep deprivation is still considered the number one factor for triggering muscle inflammation and joint pain. During intensive workouts, the muscle fibers break. And the body needs rest to rebuild and restructure them.
Taking a day off is a regular technique practiced by all athletes and bodybuilders, to allow the body to replenish its “supplies of energy.” At a daily level, you can do that by napping. A nap can boost the recovery of your sore muscles.
6. A Nap Can Improve Your Immune System
It’s scientifically proven that hitting the hay at midday can significantly enhance the production of the immune-regulating molecules, which help the body to recover much faster and better. Just 30-minutes would do. Lack of rest negatively affects the metabolic system, brain functions, and the overall performance. Of all the nap benefits outlines here, this is going to give you a longer life – because, when
Your vigilance to cope with the pressure and withstand mental attacks depends on your habits and beliefs. Research data about the side-effects of lack of sleep done at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, found that sleep deprivation indeed harms the immune system.
Watch this great video by Sara Mednick, a sleep scientist:
We outlined only a handful of nap benefits you can get from a quick daytime slumber. If you adopt this habit, you’ll quickly begin to feel the difference both at work and home.
As the book blurb of Take A Nap! Change Your Life by Sara Mednick says:
Imagine a product that increases alertness, boosts creativity, reduces stress, improves perception, stamina, motor skills, and accuracy, enhances your sex life, helps you make better decisions, keeps you looking younger, aids in weight loss, reduces the risk of heart attack, elevates your mood, and strengthens memory. Now imagine that this product is nontoxic, has no dangerous side effects, and, best of all, is absolutely free. This miracle drug is, in fact, nothing more than the nap: the right nap at the right time.
So, take that emotional burden off your shoulders by dozing off a few minutes every day, and then move confidently towards your goals.
[If you, or someone you know, suffers from poor sleep, here’s a thoroughly researched post on sleep science hacks here: 6 Scientific Sleep Hacks.]
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Authors Bio: Marquis Matson is a freelance writer currently living in Ecuador. She contributes to health blogs as well as writes about her experiences as an expat in Ecuador. Her background is in Psychology but she has left that behind. Sandip Roy is Founder of Happiness India Project.
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