The bad reputation of napping is at last starting to turn around, and for a very good reason. Napping during the day does much more than just boost our energy levels. It also provides a wide range of health and cognitive benefits as well. Here is what science has to tell about it!
Humans sleep only once daily, unlike 85 percent of all mammalian species. Experts are still unsure of the real reason; whether it`s the modern society or we are naturally monophasic. Still, it is obvious that we are not getting enough sleep!
This is where naps step in, as they can relieve these sleep deficit and boost our brains, including perceptual learning, object learning, statistical learning, verbal memory, and creative problem solving. They help us with logical reasoning, symbol recognition, reaction times, and math, too. Furthermore, napping is beneficial for the heart, stress levels, blood pressure, and even weight management.
Health Benefits Of Naps
According to a study done in Greece, adult males who took an afternoon nap at least three times weekly were 37 percent less likely to die from a heart-related issue compared to those who didn’t. There are countries in which it is a custom to have a nap after lunch, and interestingly, nearly all of them have a low rate of heart attacks. On the other hand, countries like United States and United Kingdom have quite high rate of fatal heart attacks. As a matter of fact, this condition is the major cause of death in these countries, and as we know, neither of them advocates afternoon naps.
At this point, we have acknowledged that napping is good for heart health, but what are other benefits of this habit? There are a couple of them, and this article covers 5 in particular.
- Improved cognitive performance
- Improved relaxation
- Increased alertness
- Improved memory
- Stress reduction
A NASA study from 1995 investigated the effects of napping on 747 pilots. Each of the volunteers was allowed to nap for 40 minutes daily, sleeping for about 25.5 minutes. Nappers, “demonstrated vigilance performance improvements from 16% in median reaction time to 34% in lapses compared to the No-Rest Group.”
A 2008 study showed that napping is superior to caffeine in terms of improving verbal memory, perceptual learning, and motor skills.
Does The Length Of A Nap Affect The Benefits?
20 Minute Nap: A short 20 minute nap improves memory, but it has dramatic effect on motor learning skills and mental alertness.
20-30 Minute Nap: This type of nap boosts memory and enhances creativity at the same time.
30-60 Minute Nap: This length of nap positively affects one`s decision making skills. It also improves the area of the memory that is responsible for memorizing things like directions and alphabet.
60-90 Minute Nap: This nap ensures that you get REM sleep, so it is the most beneficial of them all. The brain resets itself as you reach REM sleep and you reap benefits like improved problem solving skills.