health benefits of napping

Dear nap, I’m sorry that I was such a jerk growing up.

Laziness works. And the simple way to incorporate its health benefits into your life is simply to take a nap.

Tom Hodgkinson

Lazy souls have been napping since the dawn of civilization. You can catch them at work, on the subway, lying in the grass in the park, etc. Me? I devalued the benefits of a good nap for much of my life. A nap was in play only for unimportant gen ed courses in college, and to help prep for a late night out with friends. Heck, I even ignored everyone who said, “Make sure you nap when the baby naps” after my son was born. There was just so much to get done that the idea of napping felt like a waste of time.

Look, if you’re not a napper either because you don’t think that you have the time or you hold to the nap’s bad rap that only lazy people, children, and the elderly do it, it’s time to rethink your situation. I did. Now, I’m a drool-on-a-pillow fiend when given an opportunity to catch a little snooze.

Naps can be so magical that leading companies, hospitals, and universities in the United States recognize the benefits of naps and have been adding nap pods as a way for employees to catch a siesta during the workday. Hey, the U.S. is catching up with other societies throughout the world! And there’s mounting evidence to support the mental benefits of incorporating napping into your routine. As a napper, you’d be in good company: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap.

Benefits of napping.

The replenishing thing that comes with a nap—you end up with two mornings in a day.

Peter Hamill

Preach, Mr. Hamill. Preach. I’m convinced that naps should fall higher on our to-do list, but here’s some insight for the naptime haters out there.

Dr. Sara C. Mednick, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and the author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, found that a nap of 15 to 20 minutes can “reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance,” she says. “That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.”

Scientists have shown that a 60 to 90-minute nap can charge up the brain’s battery as much as eight hours tucked up in bed.

Lettuce (Let us – I felt like I needed a vegetable pun) run through the list of benefits that a good nap can provide:

  • Improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory.
  • Enhance your creativity.
  • Improve your critical thinking skills.
  • Zap stress.
  • Boost your mood.
  • Relaxation.
  • Give you more energy and improve your physical performance.

RELATED ARTICLE: Slow down and enjoy your life more!

Types of naps and when to take them.

Yes, there are different types of naps – and all are glorious, depending on the situation.

You’ve got the planned nap, which involves taking a nap before you actually get sleepy. Think of getting together with some old college friends and mentally feeling like you can hang into the wee hours of the morning, but your body tells you otherwise and craves its 9:00 pm bedtime. Solution? Catch a nap before the festivities start. Experts recommend one and a half hours to run through a sleep cycle and maximize the benefits. The planned nap is one that I prefer on Sunday afternoon to help calm my nerves and banish the Sunday Scaries. You know, the mid-afternoon feeling of dread about the upcoming week, where you just wish that you had one more day before you had to get back to the grind.

The habitual nap also exists. This one is about catching some zzz’s at the same time on a routine basis – such as after lunch, or like a kid’s afternoon nap. For adults, we’re talking maybe 15-20 minutes. Just enough time to get a few hours of rejuvenation, but not enough to leave you feeling sluggish.

Lastly, we’ve got the 911 nap. Similar to the length of the habitual nap, but this one is reserved for emergencies. There are times when we just can’t stay awake but need to do something that requires focus – like driving. We’ve all been there. Leave the “roll down the windows and blast the music” to the teenagers who think they’re awesome (we’ve all been there, too). In these situations, be safe.

Hope this hasn’t put you to sleep.

We’re only 750ish words in, so I hope I haven’t put you to sleep. But I do hope that I’ve either helped to reinforce your napping habit or have swayed you to the dark side – the dark side of your eyelids. As I’ve aged, rest has become more important and naps have provided the perfect pick-me-up to enjoy my waking hours more.

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