The benefits of taking an afternoon nap
Afternoon naps are great! So, why aren’t we all taking more of them? If you’re skeptical about taking a while off your afternoon schedule to doze off for a bit, the following benefits might help change your mind.
Naps helps fight afternoon sleepiness
In the afternoon, right after mealtime, when our lunch is busy digesting, we tend to get a bit sleepy. This can be a tough bout to win, and even if you stave off shuteye for the whole afternoon, your cognition and attention span might suffer for an extended period of time.
Why not embrace it and take a nap? Naps have been found most effective when it comes to coping with the so-called “afternoon hump”. A solid 20-minute nap should help immensely and keep you alert until it’s time to wrap up for the day. It reduces the mistakes we might otherwise make, prevents accidents and generally improves the quality of our work.
Naps boosts creative thinking
Apart from keeping us alert in general, a nap can go a long way towards unlocking our creativity. Napping boosts the cognitive processing of the brain. That means we will get a better flow of thoughts and ideas, allowing us to do better work. Solutions to problems tend to ‘drop’ into our minds while we’re in a resting or relaxed state. It’s like a light suddenly turning on, and this very often happens when we’re not even consciously thinking about the problem!
Naps improve memory
It has been found that napping will help people remember stuff that they’ve learned earlier in a given day. Naps do this by boosting our ability to perceive and make connections with all the information we’ve been exposed to during the day.
Naps lower our blood pressure
Daytime naps help to reduce stress on our cardiovascular system. While there is no conclusive evidence yet that a nap itself causes a reduction in coronary heart disease, the lowered blood pressure linked to napping strongly suggests that it may indeed do so.
Naps boost mood
Taking a short shuteye session in the afternoon is a sure way to improve your mood. Part of it is the energy boost we get from the nap, and part of it is the lowered level of stress. Relaxing in this way is both a soothing and restorative activity.
Naps help people who are on irregular shifts
People who do shift work can have a tough time sleeping. This makes them lethargic and sleepy during their actual work time. Naps have been found to improve performance as well as alertness for night-shift employees, especially when combined with caffeine intake. Nap and then coffee after? Sounds good!
See if your work schedule allows you to fit in that nap
Several factors could affect whether or not we are able to take these highly beneficial afternoon naps. The timing of your work schedules may determine whether this is possible. Does your work day end around sunset, or even go well into the night? Do you have school or other recreational activities scheduled in the afternoon? Each person has to determine how and when it is possible to incorporate that 20 nap break, but don’t give up on it. There is usually a way to fit it in.
Some may prefer not to nap because they find it difficult to keep to the 20 minute timeframe they’ve set themselves, with the result that they may over sleep and end up not being able to fall asleep at night. With a bit of self-discipline, though, one can learn to limit the nap to the correct length. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect. So, you should definitely try to incorporate a nap into your afternoon schedule. The benefits of those 10-20 minutes in dreamland are well worthwhile. With naps to supercharge the rest of your day, you’ll be ready for any challenge!