The Spanish have been doing it for ages – the afternoon siesta is not a luxury but a must for them. The rest of the world should follow suit as new research has revealed that a midday nap is beneficial for health. Naps are wonderful for people of any age. They can help students retain all crammed up information. They can counteract impulsive behavior and ease frustration, lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.
What does research say
Researchers from the AsklepieionVoula General Hospital in Athens, found that study participants, who took regular naps had lower blood pressure and pulse-wave velocity, which determines arterial stiffness was also low. The study included 200 men and 186 women of average age 61.
Though it has been found to boost employee productivity, taking a nap during the nine to five intense schedule is difficult for most people.
The benefits of napping
Naps can take the stress out of your busy life. A short snooze refreshes you and helps you focus. Millions of Chinese workers put their heads down on their desks to nap for an hour. A little power nap can benefit you by improving your stamina, alertness, motor skills and accuracy, boosting your sex life, aid in weight loss, brightens your mood and just gives you a sense of well-being, besides lowering blood pressure and improving your heart functions.
A good nap solidifies your memories by pushing them to the neocortex area of the brain, which is the “permanent storage area of the brain.” Studies have found that a midday nap can improve learning ability as well.
Students who napped performed better than those who didn’t. Another study by neuroscientist Robert Stickgold proved that napping prevented brain burnout too. The brain makes new raw nerve connections during REM sleep. So if you want your creative juices to flow, you should take a 90-minute nap.
It helps the immune system too. Eight hours of regular sleep with a 30-hour midday nap improves immune system markers. If you didn’t sleep last night, you should take a nap in the afternoon to get your immune system back to normal.
Need some motivation or feeling sluggish? Take a 20-minute nap to get going again.
Tricks for Taking a Nap that Energizes You
All naps are not the same. You can be recharged with a 10-minute power nap. A 26-minute nap will improve your alertness by 54%. A 90-minute one will give you a full cycle sleep to enhance creativity and emotional memory. Depending on your need, you can choose to sleep for that amount of time. But don’t oversleep – no extra benefits hiding there!
The best time for a nap
The best time to snooze during the day is between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for most people. But if you’re a night owl and sleep super late, or if you get up at the crack of dawn, you need to align your nap time with the time you get up. For Instance, if you get up at 5 a.m., take a nap at 1 p.m., 6 a.m. then 1.30, 7 try 2 p.m. and so on, according to the nap wheel of psychologist Sara Mednick, PhD.
Sticking to the same time is vital. The body begins to recognize the nap time and will mesh the extra time with your circadian rhythm.
How coffee helps
Japanese research says that having coffee right before you nap will optimize your alertness. Sounds a little strange, but a 20-minute nap will be just about the time when your caffeine kicks in. Makes sense now!
Optimum ways and means to get a nap
Trying to sleep in your chair, unless you collapse in it, is tough. Find a nice comfortable, dark place or a couch.Swiss scientists say that a hammock gives the best rest, so think about that. The temperature of the room should be between 60 and 67 degrees. A half-crawl is the best position to lie down.
Most workplaces still frown upon naps, so just close the door and take a quick nap, no one the wiser. You’d be surprised how many people have sleeping bags under their desks!
Go ahead and work out how exactly you are going to get that much-needed midday nap which will boost your productivity for sure, and help you become stress-free and control high blood pressure.