Thomas Edison, the famous inventor, was so committed to the practice of napping that he had napping cots set up throughout his home and laboratory for those essential times he felt he needed to recharge.
Leonardo da Vinci, the famous artist, snoozed for fifteen minutes every four hours. Margaret Thatcher set aside one hour every afternoon for daytime napping. For a boost of energy, Eleanor Roosevelt napped before speaking engagements.
Research has proven that taking a quick nap can boost our alertness and productivity, reduce stress, increase creativity and improve our mood. However, research also shows that all these benefits are only succeeded when we have had a good night’s sleep in the first place. Thinking a nap can be a replacement for a good night’s sleep? Definitely not, say scientists. A nap is not a replacement for sleep during the night, and in some cases, it can prevent you from having a rejuvenating and restorative sleep at night.
To Nap or Not to Nap?
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to napping. Much due to genetics, some people are nappers, and some are not. People who nap during the day usually fall asleep quickly but not deeply. The frequent nappers wake up on their own after approximately 20 minutes feeling quite refreshed. Some of these nappers say they require this daytime napping time to increase productivity levels. On the other hand, non-nappers have a deep sleep during naps. They usually require an alarm to wake up, and when they do, they feel extremely groggy. Daytime napping decreases their productivity. So which napper type are you?
Are There Any Cons Of Daytime Napping?
If you feel the need for more sleep during daytime hours, this could signal a looming future health risk. Studies by the American College of Cardiology Conference in Washington, D.C in 2016 have linked elevated risks for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other ailments to regular daytime napping. Daytime sleepiness can also be a sign of depression. In these cases, daytime sleep is an indication of an underlying problem. While not the source of the problem, napping has been proven to worsen depression. It is a good idea to visit your doctor to find the source of this daytime lethargy.
Feeling lethargic during the day can be a sign that you are lacking in nutrition. Low blood sugar also could be the cause of lethargy. Ensure you eat plenty of healthy foods to sustain energy throughout the day and obviously, avoid sugar or carbohydrates.
There are some negatives to daytime napping; while a quick 20 minute nap doesn’t tend to affect night time sleep, a longer nap or more frequent naps can make it more difficult to sleep at night. If you are a sufferer of insomnia or have poor sleep quality already, napping might worsen the issue. Sleep inertia is the term for when you feel disoriented or groggy after napping. Some people find that it may take a while to recover from this, losing valuable work time and productivity. However, taking a nap on a sofa or chair often is the only choice if you’re trying to nap during work hours. If napping isn’t for you, try exercising. Take a walk outside around the block, soak up the sunlight and fresh air to perk you up.
How Long of a Nap Should I Take to Feel Refreshed?
If you’re sick or are coming down with something, take a nap! Sleep is essential medicine so your body can get some extra rest to heal.
Naps should be between 15 and 40 minutes. According to research, there is a correlation between naps longer than 40 minutes and obesity, diabetes and metabolic illnesses (high blood pressure and high cholesterol).
If you work double shifts or night time shifts that interfere with your usual sleep patterns, try to nap while on a break to keep your energy up and your mind sharp. Medical students have mastered the art of the power nap.
The ideal time for a nap is between 2 and 3 p.m. After lunch, you may feel a lull in energy or alertness.
If you’ve had a poor night’s sleep, a nap usually is helpful to make up for the lack of rest.
Try a nap instead of reaching for coffee, caffeinated sodas or energy drinks during the day. Naps are much more effective in boosting energy than these caffeinated beverages. Also, daytime caffeine can inhibit night time sleep.
Travelling? To adjust to changing time zones, it is a good idea to take a nap while on the plane. Ensure your neck is supported so you don’t wake up with sore muscles. It is much nicer to sleep when laying down, so if you can, invest in a business class ticket where you can lay flat. Earplugs and a silk sleep mask can help you fall asleep.
It’s easy to find a place to nap if you work from home. Lock the door of your office and take a nap. Companies such as Apple and Google, provide ‘nap rooms’ for staff who want to take a nap during break time.
Take time to meditate. Meditation and napping have similar benefits. Close your eyes, focus on breathing in and out slowly and relax. Let thoughts drift by and let them go. If you fall asleep, you probably are needing some extra rest time.