The Health Benefits of Naps

The Health Benefits of Naps

  • Arna Van Ravestein

“I’ll rest when I’m dead” is a popular phrase among people who are busy and always on the go. Unfortunately, lack of rest can be more harmful than people realize: studies indicate those who get less than six hours of sleep on average had higher mortality rates than those who got 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.

While getting adequate sleep every night is preferred, that may not always be possible. Hectic lifestyles, insomnia, newborn babies and other issues may prevent people from getting a good night’s rest. This is where naps come into play.

Why Take Naps? 

In addition to helping those who are sleep deprived at night recover, the following are reasons to take naps:

Increased alertness

This can be especially useful for those who fall victim to the afternoon slump while at work. An added benefit to increased alertness is improved performance.

Boost the immune system

A lack of sleep can weaken the immune system, increasing susceptibility to illness and disease. A study on naps and the immune system found that naps returned inflammatory and immune systems back to normal, healhty levels. 

Decrease the risk of heart disease

A comprehensive study on nappers found that individuals who took naps were 34% less likely to die of heart disease than those who did not.

Decreased stress levels

In addition to increasing alertness, napping gives the body a moment to relax and reset, which can help decrease feelings of stress and anxiety.

Improved mood

One reason babies cry is because they’re sleepy. The average adult doesn’t cry when they’re sleepy, but they might become more irritable, moody, and frustrated at a faster rate. Studies indicate napping can decrease levels of frustration and increase emotional control.

Napping Tips

Here are the best ways to maximize the benefits of your naps:

Take naps early

Take a nap several hours before bedtime. This way, it won’t disrupt your nightly sleep pattern.

Find a quiet place to nap

The best naps are taken in areas that are quiet, have few distractions with a comfortable room temperature.

Avoid longer naps

The general consensus on experts is for frequent nappers, shorter naps are better. Shorter “cat naps” can be 10 – 30 minutes long, with longer naps being up to 60 minutes. 

Plan ahead

If you have to stay up late (or overnight), consider taking a nap earlier that day. This can help increase alertness and maintain productivity. 

Set an alarm clock

Sleeping too long can cause a person to wake up groggy as opposed to feeling refreshed. Consider setting an alarm clock to wake you after a designated nap time.

Have a shot of caffeine

After your nap, have a cup of coffee or tea. The caffeine in addition to the nap can increase alertness even more.

Napping could be a great benefit to individuals who are unable to get enough sleep at night. By taking naps, a person can increase their overall health and productivity more than they realize. Take a nap today. Your body might thank you.

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