We all get those days where all you want to do is take a cheeky little lunch break nap.
You’re not alone, and there is a reason for the increase of sleeping pods and quiet places in workplaces. Research shows that napping can increase worker productivity, improving performance on things like perceptual tasks, while daytime drowsiness can make it worse. A midday nap may enhance your brain’s learning capacity almost as much as a full night of sleep. It is also said that people who nap have better moods and lower frustration levels compared to those who don’t nap.
Napping, may not be for everyone, but below are benefits to napping.
- Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents.
- Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.
- Scheduled napping has also been prescribed for those who are affected by narcolepsy – a sleep disorder that is characterised by excessive sleepiness, sleep attacks, sleep paralysis, hallucinations and, for some, sudden loss of muscle control (cataplexy).
- Napping has psychological benefits and can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Napping can improve our cognitive functioning, reaction times, short-term memory and even our mood.
- Motor learning, which is where brain pathways change in response to learning a new skill, can be significantly greater following a brief afternoon nap for regular nappers when compared to non-nappers.
As with most things, there are negative effects of napping. It is important to note these effects and to know what is best for your body and works for you.
- Naps can leave people with sleep inertia, especially when they last more than 10-20 minutes. Sleep inertia is defined as the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening from a deep sleep. While this state usually only lasts for a few minutes to a half-hour, it can be detrimental to those who must perform immediately after waking from a napping period. Post-nap impairment and disorientation is more severe, and can last longer, in people who are sleep deprived or nap for longer periods.
- Napping can have a negative effect on regular sleeping periods. A long nap or a nap taken too late in the day may adversely affect the length and quality of nighttime sleep. If you have trouble sleeping at night, a nap will only amplify these problems.
- One study has indicated that napping is associated with increased risk of heart failure in people already at risk.
If you think napping will help you, here are some tips to help you make the most of a midday nap and see if this works for you.
- A short nap is recommended, around 20-30 minutes. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.
- Your sleep environment can greatly impact your ability to nap. Ensure you have a restful place to lie down, somewhere you won’t be disturbed, is private and dark.
- If you take a nap too late in the day, this may affect your nighttime sleep patterns and make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night.
- An early to mid-afternoon nap provides the greatest rejuvenation when compared to naps at any other time of the day. However, if you’re struggling to stay awake, a brief nap taken at any time can be help keep you alert.
- Set an alarm to signal when to get up and allow yourself a few minutes to get yourself together before you go back to the office.