I am 68 years old. When I was in my 30’s and 40’s I used to look at my parents and other family members who I thought at the time were OLD and think…they’re wasting the best part of their days in bed. I’ll never do that. Yes, napping gets a bad rap. I thought that napping is for lazy, old, or those who had no purpose in life, until I took a look at the REST of the animal world and realized how much time my dog sleeps every day. It’s pretty impressive. Could we benefit from a regular nap every day as well? For the past few years, I’ve been hitting the bed for a little snooze in the middle of the day and WHAT a difference it made.
Napping can bring you both physical and psychological benefits:
- Less fatigue. Studies have shown that napping is a terrible substitute for a good night of sleep when it comes to physical restoration. For example, you won’t recover better from an intense workout by taking naps. However, you WILL feel less tired and refreshed if you take a nap.
- More alert. I have found that my alertness is significantly improved with naps. Do you know that dreaded feeling of physical and mental fatigue that hit you in the afternoon? A nap is a perfect way to overcome that. You’ll feel like a new person.
- Better focus. With that alertness comes greater focus. You’ll find it easier to control your attention with less daydreaming or mind wandering. If you always find yourself struggling later in the day to keep your mind on task, a nap might be just the answer.
- Enhanced mood. Naps have been shown to increase contentedness. Who doesn’t feel a little better after a good nap? I think my wife actually likes it BEST when I take a nap because I know that I’m a much nicer person when I do.
- Greater performance. If you’re less tired, more alert, more focused, and are in a better mood, you’re going to perform at a higher level. Naps are magical that way.
- Increased learning and memory. There are certain types of learning and memory that seem to be greatly enhanced by napping. If you’re taking a night class, a nap beforehand is a good idea. If you find yourself only getting through a few pages of that book you’ve been trying to read, a nap might be the answer. If your memory is less than ideal, try a nap and see if that helps.
- More productive hours. A nap seems to reset your brain. It’s like you have a whole new day ahead of you. An afternoon nap can give you several more hours of that get-up and go. Consider how little you probably get done later in the day now. That time might best be used for napping instead of that 3:00 slump that you’re used to having.
- Boost immune system. I learned that there are countless studies that have shown a positive effect of naps on our immune system. Naps can help to keep you healthy. They’ve even found that naps are especially helpful during flu season. A nap a day might keep the doctor away better than that apple (but, you can still eat an apple…because it tastes goo).
- Improved physical stamina. Working out, lifting, etc., are all strengthened with naps. This has been demonstrated in athletes, soldiers, and even weekend golfers like me. Do you feel weak and ineffectual? A nap might be in order.
A few final tips to keep in mind:
- You need to figure out just how much time you need to nap. This varies from person to person. Naps from 30-60 minutes work best for most people, but each person is a little different. Experiment and see what works best for you.
- Use an alarm. If you’re worried about oversleeping, you’ll be less likely to fall asleep and sleep soundly.
- Be consistent. You might feel a little groggy the first few times you try napping. Stick with it. Try to be consistent with your napping schedule, and your body will adapt.
Napping costs nothing, feels good, and benefits your mind and body in so many ways. You’ll accomplish more and smile more while doing it. Avoid believing the naysayers and test it out for yourself. Napping is a great tool for increasing productivity and performance.