Are Naps Good For You? We're Tackling the Age Old Question!
Sleep. Something that begins to feel increasingly precious as each year passes. We look forward to that moment when we can complete our night routine, get in our pajamas, and rest our heads on that soft pillow. (I’m tired now, can you tell?) There's also this amazing thing called a nap. The sanctity of sleep can't be overstated, but we've often been warned against midday naps. So, are naps good for you or should they be left in the realm of toddlers?
The nap. A short period of sleep during the daytime helps you recharged and reset. A nap is most commonly taken by those who have insufficient nighttime sleep and for those entirely exhausted when they wake up. Many people nowadays have created a bad connotation around “adult naps”, when in reality, naps can be a total lifesaver.
- Most people struggle to sleep at night which leaves them with no energy the rest of the day.
- If you do it right, a daily nap can be very good for you.
- Taking naps isn't just for preschoolers, naptime can be a part of your day too!
Why do people struggle with sleep?
So many people struggle with normal sleep habits, which leads to not getting enough sleep, being tired throughout the day, and consequently messing up your whole sleep schedule. According to American Sleep Apnea Association, 50-70 million Americans are affected by sleep-related problems, leading to 25% of American adults reporting insufficient sleep on at least half of the days of their month. Poor sleep issues can lead to things like:
- Daytime Fatigue
- Trouble Thinking and Concentrating
- Increase in stress and irritability
- Weakened Immune System (i.e. getting sick more often)
- Digestive Issues
What causes sleep issues?
With so many people having sleep issues, it is becoming more common to fit in a nap sometime in your daily schedule. Naps are not just for babies, but for anyone looking to get rested and rejuvenated in under an hour. Naps are commonly ideal for those who have trouble feeling fully rested after waking up each morning, or for those who struggle with nighttime in general. Some factors that cause poor sleep are:
- Irregular sleep schedule
- Poor lifestyle habits
- Stress or anxiety
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
So if you feel like you are that person lacking quality sleep and who needs to start making naps a daily task, keep reading. There has always been constant talk about if naps are good for you, how long they should be, and when you should take one. So let’s dig into the bottom line: are naps good for you?
Are naps good for you?
Simply put: YES, naps are good for you. But there are certain things one should know in order to get the best benefits out of their naps. Naps can have a plethora of benefits starting from better cognition and alertness to a decrease in stress, according to Meghan Quarles, a health coach at Parsley Health.
Not only are naps good for your mental and physical health, but they should be seen as a staple part of your daily routine. Health coach Quarles shares, “Power naps can be very beneficial for adults in need of an energy boost or after a poor night of sleep”. Who would have known that not only is a nap a good idea occasionally, but something that you should integrate into a normal part of your day-to-day routine!
I already know what you are thinking: what is the ideal nap and napping schedule then? Below are some crucial “don’ts” you should keep in mind before you make naps a normal part of your day.
1. Don’t pick a random time of the day.
Picking a nap too late in your day can start impacting your nighttime routine and sleep quality. If you are feeling tired around early evening, or anytime after 4-5 pm, this is too late to take a nap without consequences being reflected once bedtime comes. It is suggested to take a nap anytime before 2 pm to see the best benefits and not interfere with nighttime sleep.
2. Don’t oversleep
The sweet spot nap time is around 20 minutes. Sounds short, but this is the perfect amount of time to feel completely rested without that grody or hungover feeling when you wake up after a 2-hour nap.
Yes, this isn’t enough time to get that deep sleep you need during bedtime. That is exactly the point! Waking up during deep sleep or REM sleep will give you those feelings of a hangover or total exhaustion and confusion.
3. Don’t nap at different times each day
Make your napping schedule consistent! This will start to get your body into a routine and become more used to this daily nap. If you are randomly throwing a nap in whenever you can or whenever you feel tired, your body is going to feel different every time you wake up from those naps.
The goal of this short, sweet, and scheduled nap is to wake up feeling better than you did before the nap. This can be accomplished by following a consistent routine and choosing a time in your day that works best for you. So put it in your calendar and give yourself a block of time that is strictly reserved for your nap. I personally suggest time blocking 1-hour for this 20-minute long nap.
What are the benefits of a daily nap?
Now that you know the ideal nap and napping routine, you are probably curious as to why this is so important for your overall health and well-being. Some benefits of consistent naps are:
- Reduces stress
- Boosts mood
- Can help with anxiety and depression
- Benefits heart health
- Reduces sleepiness and general exhaustion
- Improves learning
- Helps memory formation
- Can aid in emotion regulation
The list goes on for the benefits of napping. From core health improvement to being an overall mood booster, naps could be a complete game-changer for making your day feel more productive and successful.
The bottom line
So although naps are ideal for many people, they could in fact have the opposite result in some people’s lives. According to the Sleep Foundation, naps can interfere with one’s ability to fall asleep at bedtime. Therefore it is suggested that people who have trouble falling asleep at bedtime, staying asleep at night, or those with insomnia, to potentially avoid napping or first speak with a doctor before integrating it into their daily routine.
In short: Are naps good for you? Yes. Should you do your research and test it out before making it a consistent part of your routine? Also yes.
Written by Bella Knuth