The Benefits of Sleep and Napping.
I don't know about you, but when I look at the above picture I can honestly say that I pictured my self doing that at work more times than I can remember!
Remember the very early years of your life when napping was something you did every day? When you started preschool and even kindergarten, napping was part of your school day, and most of us were not very happy about it. Then again, we were not very happy when it was time to wake up either! As you got older, napping became a thing of the past, unless of course your parents made you take a nap during the weekends. I believe that was more for them, a small break, however they helped you along the way.
Growing up in Greece, napping was just part of our daily lives. Between the hours of 2 and 5pm, all the stores closed, with the exception of the pharmacy, and even they took turns every week. If your business was open during those hours the police would issue you a ticket. Everyone went home, had lunch with their families and took a nap before returning to their jobs and other tasks on hand. More often than not, I fought tooth and nail every day to stay awake during nap time. Little did I know that an afternoon nap had so many health benefits!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 85% of mammalian species are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they sleep for short periods throughout the day. Humans are part of the minority of monophasic sleepers, meaning that our days are divided into two distinct periods, one for sleep and one for wakefulness. It is not clear that this is the natural sleep pattern of humans (NSF, 2015). The USA is becoming more and more sleep deprived. Our daily schedule keep us so busy during the day and create so much stress that even our night time sleep is being negatively affected. Has our sleep changed and evolved or was it always divided into two distinct periods?
There have been so many studies about the powerful benefits of sleep in general and even more specific to taking a nap and the results remain consistent. Napping is definitely beneficial to our physical and mental health. Here is a list of benefits:
Napping boosts alertness. A short 20 to 30 minute nap can help you feel more alert.
Napping improves learning and memory. The longer the nap the more beneficial, however even a short nap can help you fight off mental fatigue. In fact, fMRI scans have shown that brain activity remains higher in nappers all day compared to people who don't take a rest, according to a 2008 study (NSF, 2015).
Napping increases creativity. Have you ever woken up with a solution to a problem? Yes, napping helps.
Napping boosts productivity. An afternoon nap is the opposite of laziness in the workplace. It can help overworked employees be more productive during their second half of the work day more than that afternoon cup of coffee.
Napping lifts your spirts. Have you been around a toddler that has not napped? Adults feel the same, however society would be a lot less forgiving of an adult acting as a toddler. Although I have witness a couple in my lifetime. A nap can make you a more pleasant person to be around.
Napping zaps stress. Think of it as a “mini-vacation”. Even if you don’t fully fall asleep. Taking some time to lay down and relax can make a big difference.
A study by Jennifer Goldschmied, a psychology doctoral student at the University of Michigan concluded that taking a nap may help curb impulsive behaviors and boost tolerance for frustration. These results can have a significant impact, especially in individuals dealing with anxiety, depression and general mood disorders as well as children and adolescents with behavioral challenges.
Next time you have a chance to nap, don’t let your “to do” list get in the way. It will still be there after your nap, and you will be more likely to get it done faster and more efficiently.
National Sleep Foundation (2015) Napping
Huffpost Health Living (2013) 6 Convincing Reasons To Take A Nap Today