Taking a nap is one thing most of us excel at. It seems we are naturally talented at taking naps.
For those who work long hours, a short break and a power nap can bring immense energy within us. If only our bosses could understand!
But then, the idea of taking naps seems to have always had bad reputation. If you commonly take naps at odd moments, you will be called lazy. Unless you have some kind of disease or are very old, random naps are generally no-no.
Well, like most stereotypes, this one is untrue – naps and laziness are not connected. Plus, naps have loads of benefits. We just don’t know many of them.
Naps Are Good For Our Body
While most of us are stuck with this stereotype that napping is bad, it was back in the 1980’s that science showed us the importance of napping. Napping increases your performance levels, makes you more functional in your immediate tasks, and brings about a positive mindset. All of this helps to enhance productivity at whatever you do. Maybe bosses should allow napping.
We are actually conditioned to take a nap. We are one of the only mammals who have distinct awake and sleep periods. However, it is not our natural sleep pattern. Have you ever felt immense lethargy holding you back after your lunch? Most of us attribute it to a heavy lunch. It’s actually biological. We, humans, have a cycle called the circadian rhythm.
Due to this cycle, we feel extremely sleepy during two periods in a 24-hour day – in the afternoon between 1 pm and 3 pm, and late after midnight, between 2 am to 4 am. Whenever we enter these time frames, our alertness starts to falter. We are not very coordinated and our mood hits a low. Our reaction times get diminished too. If you can take a nap, even a short one, you can get back your active, fully-functioning self again quickly.
We live in a protected environment now – we don’t have wolves or other predators looking for us outside. But it was not the same for our ancestors. They had to live in tough times, in the wild, amongst animals looking to tear them apart. They had to be coordinated and alert all the time. So, taking short naps was their strategy to survive.
How Important Are Naps?
We have been talking about the importance of naps, but is there proof? Well, YES! Firstly, how long we take a nap is important. It’s different for different people and like our ancestors, you have to make it strategic. Other than that, these are some of the scientific benefits that come with it:
NASA had conducted research on pilots and found out that a nap for about 26 minutes can result in boosting their performance by about 34%. They become more alert too, by about 54%.
A type of memory process gets a boost due to napping which can make us even more creative.
If you nap and dream along with it, then it can have a significant positive effect on your learning abilities and memory.
If you take a 30-minute nap thrice a day, it can lower chances of cardiovascular diseases and death by 37 %.
A nap can help your body to lower and manage blood pressure levels.
Of course, stress reduction and relaxation have immense psychological benefits.
So, science has proven big benefits of napping from memory to health. It’s time to beat the stigma about it!
Companies are slowly becoming aware of the benefits of napping. They are providing napping rooms with napping pods for a comfortable nap. Google, Facebook, The Huffington Post and Nike already has their own dedicated nap rooms for the employees.
A number of airlines allow their pilots to sleep during a long international flight. Their colleague takes over for that time duration. Even the National Transportation Safety Board wanted a ‘controlled naps’ system for air controlling pulling a night shift.
The efficient and disciplined Japan has understood the benefits of napping and recommend an half-an-hour nap for working people on the job. It is just another way for them to increase their efficiency.