Napping is one of life’s little treats! If you have children and/or work in a 9-5 job then it is an even bigger treat that doesn’t occur too often, so when you are given the chance of a nap make sure you take full advantage.
Two influential UK Prime Ministers were supporters of the midday nap. Winston Churchill said that we must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner while Margaret Thatcher didn’t want to be disturbed at around 3pm because of her power nap.
Just in case you need a few more reasons to justify your next afternoon power nap (unlikely, we think) then read our top tips guide to the benefits of napping:
Reason 1: Napping can restore alertness
When the body and mind grow tired, humans are more likely to make mistakes and accidents are more likely to occur. Naps can restore alertness and enhance performance, thus reversing this theory. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a power nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
Reason 2: Napping has psychological benefits
A nap can be a real personal luxury – an indulgent few minutes for yourself where you can shut off from the outside world and take a rest for both your body and your mind. Especially during periods of stress and anxiety, a nap can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation, as well to take a well-earned ‘time out’.
Reason 3: If it’s good enough for a baby….
Most children under the age of 1 will have two naps a day, usually one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. By 2 years, most of them will have given up the morning nap but still need an afternoon snooze to make it through dinner without a meltdown, and this napping ritual will often last until the child reaches around 5 years old.
Reason 4: It doesn’t need to be a long nap
A short nap (power nap) should usually last approximately 10 – 20 mins for optimum effect so that it doesn’t interfere with your nighttime sleep. Ideally take your nap in a comfortable and peaceful environment like your own bed, however, napping in a comfy chair or reclined car seat can be just as enjoyable.
Reason 5: Break up your long-distance drive
Long distance driving can take it’s toll on drivers whether they are used to it or not. Sleep experts (and the police) recommend that if you feel drowsy when driving, you should immediately pull over to a rest area, drink a caffeinated beverage and take a 20-minute nap before you start driving again. The EU’s rules on driving state that a break or breaks totaling at least 45 minutes should be taken after no more than 4 hours 30 minutes driving.
Reason 6: Napping reverses information overload
While we often deny ourselves a nap because we feel like we are too busy and have too much to do, studies have shown that working without rest dramatically reduces your productivity and the brain can suffer from information overload. It would be better to take a short nap and return to your work refreshed and with a clear mind.
Reason 7: Napping can improve your mood
We all know that when we are tired our mood is effected and our temperament becomes less calm and more erratic. We are more likely to have conflicts with others when we are tired and we can easily become anxious or irritable. A short nap can significantly improve your mood by releasing serotonin in your brain, creating a more positive and happy outlook when you awaken.
Reason 8: Napping can lower your blood pressure
Last year a group of doctors in Athens revealed that a regular mid-day nap can help lower blood pressure and ward off heart attacks. The new research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in London, revealed how a daily snooze could also reduce the the need for blood pressure medications.
Although the benefits of naps are vast as can be seen above, not everyone has an easy time falling asleep in the middle of the day for multiple reasons. For those who find it logistically impossible, even just quiet rest in a room on your own, or short meditation can do wonders. Simple breathing exercises like breathing slowly and counting your inhale and exhale for a count of three to six repeatedly can help slow down your brain and be restorative.
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