What is the best nap time? Benefits of napping

August 24, 2020 5 mins read
What is the best nap time? Benefits of napping

Did you know that there are many health benefits of napping? Hitting that afternoon slump could be your body letting you in on a little secret; that to enhance your performance, increase alertness, and improve your mood, you need a nap.

Whether you enjoy an afternoon lie-down or not, we uncover the best way to nap (and why you need one), so you’re able to feel optimally rested after your micro-snooze.

The benefits of napping

Indulging in an afternoon nap could be your solution to help you relax and give your brain a mental boost. Today’s fast-paced world often leaves us feeling sleep deprived, even after a good night’s rest. Sleep deprivation can play havoc on our moods, ability to function and general alertness.

We know the many benefits of a good night’s sleep, but by adding a scheduled nap into your day could further sustain your mental health and wellbeing.

1. Improves your alertness

Experiencing that post-lunch dip? You’re not alone. Taking a brief nap of 10-15 minutes after lunch can significantly improve your mental alertness, cognitive performance and mood almost immediately after waking. This benefit of a power nap can typically last for a few hours, giving you the momentum you need to power through the rest of your day’s activities.

2. Feel re-energised

Fear not, non-napper, a simple lie-down, whether you fall asleep or not, can have the same outcome: re-energising your mood by regulating your blood sugar levels. The act of lying down is said to help relax your body, allowing it to switch off and recalibrate. Even if you don’t end up falling asleep, you will rise in a brighter mood.

3. Give your immune system a boost

Naps can keep you healthier for longer. Introducing a mid-afternoon snooze can boost the production of your white blood cells that help your immune system tackle illnesses. Specifically useful in winter, when it’s best to snuggle up, a nap can play a defensive role against catching a winter cold and other germs that could be floating about.

4. Improve your memory

Taking a nap during the day is found to benefit memory retention. Studies have shown that getting the recommended 8-hour’s sleep can play an important role in storing and regaining your memories. Taking a nap can also help you remember things you’ve learned earlier in the day. (Great news for students!).

5. It may reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke

One of the benefits of napping is that it reduces your stress, and with it, your blood pressure, which, if not treated, has a knock-on effect of causing heart disease and could even lead to a stroke. If you’re under a lot of stress, make time for a micro-snooze. Not only does a nap refuel your mind, but it assists your heart to recover from stress too.

6. Increase stamina and performance

Including a daily nap into your fitness regime could increase your athletic performance. We all know that having a rest day when you’re trying to get fit is important, but adding a nap into the mix has been seen to improve your stamina by increasing your muscles’ recovery time.

During sleep, your body performs vital restorative functions, including a regenerative process on cells and muscle tissues, making your naps an important factor in getting fit and staying fit.

7. Helps with anxiety and depression

Depression and sleepiness are common symptoms in people who suffer from insomnia, so it’s recommended to try and catch-up on lost sleep with some daytime downtime. The benefits of regular naps can help reduce your stress levels, which can cause anxiety and depression.

You may feel that waking from a nap will leave you feeling more rested and alert, but if you’re taking longer than usual daily naps, waking up feeling foggy, or experiencing other symptoms of depression, it’s best to chat with your GP to see if there may be an underlying issue.

What is the best nap time?

The best nap time is after lunch between 1-3 PM when your body’s temperature starts to drop, and your melatonin levels rise. Our bodies react to our daily schedules differently and feeling that mid-afternoon drowsiness is nothing to be worried about. As our circadian rhythm is designed to keep our body clock in sync, feeling that need to nap after lunch is part of our design. Many cultures even incorporate a midday siesta into their daily schedules, and so should you. Taking a nap during this time will help counteract the fatigue your body experiences after eating lunch and allow it to speed up your rejuvenation process.

When preparing for an afternoon snooze, make sure your environment allows you to get the full benefits of your nap:

  • Make sure your space is quiet and dark. Peaceful, quiet surroundings will allow you to enter a sleep state faster.
  • Clear all distractions. Turn off your phone and TV. However, you might want to set an alarm to wake you before you enter a deep sleep state.
  • Keep a blanket handy. Your body temperature drops when you sleep, so you might want to keep a blanket within reach if you get too cold.
  • Consider caffeine. It may seem counterintuitive to sip on a stimulant before a nap, but it’s been shown to stop you from entering deep sleep stages and allow your body to wake up with increased alertness. However, if you are sensitive to caffeine, this should be avoided as it could affect your night-time sleep.

The benefits of napping have been seen as a great way to jumpstart the second half of your day. As well as keeping you refreshed, less stressed, and more alert, scheduling in a micro-sleep into your daily routine could be the secret to a healthier and happier you.