Sometimes it seems like the older you are, the more you truly appreciate the beauty of nap time. Sleeping for a few minutes during the day can feel like the ultimate luxury. And as it turns out, there are plenty of fascinating things that happen to your body after a 20 minute nap that explain why these mini-sleeps are so lovely. As someone who absolutely loves naps, I was thrilled to learn more about this topic, because any justification for continuing nap-time long into adulthood is fine by me.
Before diving into all the reasons why naps are good, it's important to establish why sleep deprivation is bad. And really, it's a terrible thing that goes way beyond feeling grumpy at work. Short-term sleep deprivation can cause irritability and concentration problems, while long-term sleeplessness can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, according to the National Health Service. Sleep is so essential for your mind and body.
A few years ago, the rallying cry in my college study groups was "Sleep is for the weak." But now I know that sleeping enough at night, and allowing yourself to take naps during the day, is a much healthier approach. Here are some reasons to give your brain and body a little break every afternoon with a much-deserved nap.
1. Increased Alertness
If you're maxed out on caffeine consumption for the day, then quick naps are a safe way to get that much-needed energy boost. "You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping," said sleep expert Sara C. Mednick, PhD, in WebMD. "You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance." That power nap can literally help you power up for a little more wakefulness.
2. Lower Blood Pressure
Quick naps may be beneficial for your overall health as well. “Midday naps seem to lower blood pressure levels and may probably also decrease the number of required antihypertensive medic [drugs],” said lead researcher Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, who worked on a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology annual conference, according to The Telegraph. If napping is the habit that legitimately saves lives, then I'm all for it.
3. Stress Reduction
The custom of taking a nap after lunch may provide some serious health benefits, including reduced stress and increased relaxation. In fact, going without enough sleep is worse than going without enough food, according to researchers from the Sleep Section of the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (SEMERGEN), as reported in Europa Press. Give yourself permission to crash on the couch.
4. Quicker Reaction Time
When you're getting through that mid-afternoon slump, it can feel like your entire body is slogging through molasses. You just feel slow. But a nap can improve your overall performance, even resulting in faster reaction times, according to the Mayo Clinic. You'll be quick on your feet again in no time.
5. Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease
All that stress reduction and lower blood pressure from napping may pay off in a big way, health-wise. Taking short naps may ultimately decrease the risk of heart disease, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to catch some shut-eye and seriously benefit my health for a few minutes. Hopefully you'll get to enjoy a nap soon as well.