Napping is good; my childhood was wasted crying to stay awake!
If I could go back in time, I would go back to my 4 year old self that was dead set on keeping my eyes open through the ENTIRE day to become a ‘big kid’. Many hours were wasted fighting with my parents, hell, fighting with my body, just to be awake so I can say I didn’t take a nap. Flash forward twenty some years and I would love to be forced to take a nap. Sadly that is not the reality of my adult life and my 40-hour a week job. However, science is showing that making time for naps have countless positive effects on things such as productivity all the way down to your body’s inner functionality!
Our Bodies Dance to Their own Tune!
Our bodies all function off our own personal circadian rhythm, say what? That’s a fancy term for the 24 hour cycle that your body goes through each day. We all have our own circadian rhythm, and each person is different. They are influenced by things such as sunlight and our feeding schedule. There are clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to this daily cycle.
As adults there are certain times throughout the day that our rhythm takes a bigger dip. You might be familiar with the term “mid-day slump”, turns out this is a real thing. Between 1:00-3:00 PM we experience a dip in our circadian rhythm and that is when we get drowsy, can’t focus, start questioning your thoughts and just overall less effective in your tasks. Now this “slump” can look different to each person and can vary by the day. If you get a great night sleep, your circadian rhythm will not have such a severe drop during the day, you might not even notice it.
Let’s Take a Brain Break
So now you know a bit more about why you might feel the need for a nap. Let’s talk about what the nap can do for you because I already know what you are thinking “who in the world has time for a nap?!”. The answer is rather simple, if you struggle through your circadian rhythm dip, you will be less productive, irritable and less alert, and likely have to redo simple tasks you usually have no problem completing.
Studies show that taking a 10-20 minute nap can help to boost alertness and energy making the rest of your day more productive and meaningful. By keeping your nap on the shorter side, you will stay out of the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep that makes for a smoother transition back to whatever it is that you need to do! As with most things, listen to your body, it knows you best. Some people find that their body needs more or less to recharge.
Avoid The Nap Hangover
If you nap for too long you can wind up with a hangover like feeling, leaving you in a groggy state for a while before you are back up and running. If you experience this, you need to cut your time back a bit. It will take some testing to find out what works best for your body as well as the best time of the day for you to take a nap.
Famous People Who Loved to Nap
Winston Churchill once said ”Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces” From his book “The Gathering Storm”.
Studies, Research and My Opinion
There are many studies and ongoing research surrounding the benefits of napping yielding results such as improving memory, lessening the susceptibility to death by heart related diseases, blood pressure, dementia, weight control and immunity. Most of these studies are very specific in the demographic that it researched and at this time I’m not seeing anything that would make me feel comfortable stating any of those are a tested outcome across the board. What I can tell you with certainty is this; every human body has dips in their circadian rhythm, which literally makes us sleepy in the afternoon. Finding a nap period that works for you will release serotonin which produces feeling of wellbeing and can reverse the effects of stress, increases alertness and can increase productivity. Personally, I would rather find time for a 30-minute siesta and return to raring to go than struggle through the day working slower, not to my ability and likely having to redo the work I produce.