Health Magazine

7 Things You Need To Know About Taking a Daily Nap

By Rohan @rohanforsale

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So on the advice of my dad (pro napper) after complaining about a lack of energy, I’ve decided to try taking a daily nap for the next month to test it’s benefits. As a kid I always hated nap time, I just wanted to play, play, play but I’m a grumpy old(er) dude now working hard on my projects so napping has a newly acquired allure to me! I’m 4 days into my month long trial and so I thought I’d share some of my early experiences as well as some of the science behind why naps are so awesome!

I’m lucky in the sense that I work from home, I can schedule regular naps into my routine fairly easily, however with a little ingenuity most people can find the time and space to fit a nap into their day. At the end of the month I’ll be posting my full report but for now here are the 7 Reasons To Nap Every Day!

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1. It Improves Your Health: There are a number of health benefits to taking a daily nap including reduced stress and anxiety, increased sexual vitality (pfft as if I need that!), a boost to your immune system and it also helps with muscle repair and weight loss. This is all due to the fact that the growth hormone cortisol is released during sleep. Cortisol is our natural anti stress drug and also results in those other amazing benefits. Physical healing is accelerated during sleep so if you have recently suffered an injury, regular naps with speed up your recovery!

A Greek study showed that people taking a thirty minute nap at least three times a week had 37% less risk of dying from a heart-related condition. The risk of death was reduced by 64% among working men.

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2. It Increases Your Focus, Alertness and Memory: Unlike other tiredness suppressants like coffee which gives you the wiry alertness, but actually hinder memory functions, naps give you all the benefits without any of the drawbacks. Studies have found that a 20 minute nap is more effective than either 200 mg of caffeine or a bout of exercise. One study by NASA found that a 40 minute nap increases alertness by 100%. Napping improves your working memory. When we sleep the things we’ve learned and the events of the day are stored to the neocortex of the brain for safe keeping. This means we retain more important information that can be accessed later. When we power on  through drowsiness much of what we learned is simply lost!

3. Napping Heightens Creativity and Sense Perception: Dr Sara C. Mednick, the world’s foremost expert on naps, reckons that when we awaken from a nap, as we do from sleep in the morning, our sense of smell, taste, sound and touch are heightened making things look, feel, taste and sound better! As well as this our levels of creativity and creative output are boosted by our increased alertness and out ability to experience the world around us in a much more intense and enjoyable fashion.

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Kid’s got the right idea

4. Napping Prevents Breakdowns and Burnout: I’ve had personal experience with burnout and it’s not much fun, I can tell you that! At any time in life when you are required to perform beyond what any human should have to do for an extended period of time, burnout will catch up with you eventually. Taking regular naps can help with this somewhat, giving your mind and body a chance to catch up during the day and filling you with the energy needed to get through the work and other commitments.

Think you’re too busy to spare 30 minutes for a nap? Studies (and common sense) have shown that when exhausted, performance declines dramatically. It actually works out much more productive to take a half hour nap than powering through! Plus it will save you from hitting that brick wall of burnout.

5. Why We Need To Nap: Our modern society’s clock is not in line with our millennia old biological clock. Some of us feel alert throughout the day, however most people feel that dip between 1pm and 3pm. This is completely natural and is built into us at a biological level. There are many evolutionary theories as to why this post lunch drop exists, but the one thing that everyone agrees on is that it does in fact exist. Most ancient cultures, and many not so ancient cultures, including a lot of Aegean, Caribbean, South American and Mediterranean cultures have naps as part of their daily routine. Less so these days as people are pushed harder and harder for less and less, but you don’t have to go back far to find that the daily, after lunch nap was a common tradition for much of the world’s population.

Whether we like it or not, it’s part of our internal biological clock, so rather than pushing through, why not give in and enjoy the added productivity that comes with a good nap!

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Awwwwwwwww

6. How Long You Nap Matters: There are many different sleep phases, which come with different benefits and side effects depending on how long you sleep! The 20 minute power nap boosts alertness and motor coordination, this is great for tasks that require fine hand movements like typing or playing an instrument, and the alertness helps with working on tasks that require focus and concentration. If you nap from 30-60 minutes you enter slow wave sleep, this type of sleep increases creativity and memory. And finally Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep occurs during 60 to 90 minutes of napping, this type of sleep creates new connections in the brain, storing information and solving creative problems.

So depending on the task at hand, think about the benefits you require and base your nap times around them! Beware though, taking longer naps can result in being quite groggy when you wake up. I discovered this the other day when I went a little too long!

Dude, where's your blanket?!

Dude, where’s your blanket?!

7. What You Need To Do To Enjoy a Good Nap: So here’s how I nap. I jump onto my bed, fully clothed (sorry, I only sleep naked at night!), and throw a blanket over myself. I close my blinds, turn off the light and pull my beanie over my eyes. This is probably the best way to nap if you can manage it (beanie is optional). I’ve also heard of people napping in their car with a sleep mask, in a park on a nice day, on your desk with something soft to act as a pillow, or on a couch. You can nap just about anywhere as long as it’s comfortable and peaceful enough to drift off. Also our body temperature drops as we sleep so it’s important to cover up, otherwise you’ll get a chill. Finally try to nap at the same or similar time each day, when you create a pattern it becomes easier to drift off than if you nap willy nilly.

So there you have my 7 things you need to know about napping. So far I’ve really enjoyed the experiment, it’s like having two days in one! I’m working so hard on my blogging, writing and music these days that I require every spare ounce of energy I can get and the naps are helping a lot. Look out for my follow up post in a month or so when I’ll share with you my experiences of napping for a full 30 days!

Also I told Kozo I would have a Banner For Peace for the Bloggers For Peace February Challenge and so here it is! I think napping can certainly contribute to our sense of inner and outer peace!

Rohan Healy Peace Banner

The quote was taken from my latest book and was found by my friend and fellow blogger Brendaline! Photo by me.

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Thanks for reading, all the best

:)

Rohan.

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