Many countries celebrate an afternoon siesta, closing shops for lunch and returning in the early evening to resume work after a snooze. Experts say that having a short nap in the afternoon can yield many health benefits, from improving your mood to improving your memory. According to WebMD, a nap can help you remember things you learned earlier in the day as much as a good night’s sleep.
Other benefits include:
- Making you more consistent at work. Studies demonstrate that your performance dwindles during the day. Resting can restore your afternoon vigor better than a cup of Joe.
- Boosting your spirit. Experts have said that lying down and taking it easy can help you out of a funk even if you don’t fall asleep.
- Battling post-lunch slump. Many of us feel drowsy after lunch and taking a brief nap can help us regenerate.
- Helping you prepare for a late-night date or travel plans. If you know you’re going to be up late, having a nap can help you fight fatigue better than caffeine, according to studies.
- Improving immune function. When you are under pressure and feel stressed, a 30-minute nap can help you relax and release.
- Lowering blood pressure. One study found that people who napped from 45 to 60 minutes experienced lower blood pressure even when going through a stressful experience.
- Powering up brain function. According to Dr. Gabe Mirkin, M.D., in one study a 45- to 60-minute nap improved memory recall fivefold. “These results were supported by improved sleep spindles on an EEG brain wave test that signify better memory recalls,” he tells Newsmax. “Naps as short as 10 minutes can revive memory and alertness, according to other studies.”
The problem with longer naps is that most folks wake up groggy and suffering from what the Mayo Clinic calls, “sleep inertia.” Also, people who experience insomnia or poor sleep quality may find that napping exacerbates their problems.
Mirkin, the author of “The Healthy Heart Miracle,” points out that some studies show that people who take naps lasting longer than two hours are far more likely to suffer serious heart disease than those who take shorter naps or no naps at all.
“My recommendation is that napping during the day can be healthful and can protect memory and other brain functions, as long as you don’t sleep too much at night,” he says. Total sleep time should not be more than eight hours.
He adds that napping after a vigorous exercise workout is desirable because it helps your brain and muscle recover faster. According to the Mayo Clinic, follow these tips to get the most out of your nap:
- Keep naps short. Aim to nap for only 10 to 20 minutes if you don’t want to feel groggy afterward.
- Take naps early in the afternoon. Napping after 3 p.m. can interfere with your sleep patterns at night.
- Create a restful environment. Find a quiet spot, free of distractions, so you’ll enjoy a quality nap.
- Take your time. When you wake up from your nap, take a few moments to make the transition back to your normal activities.
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