Too many people these days react with shock if you suggest more sleep. Despite the fact that it’s proven to heal, energize, fight aging, boost immunity, and so much more, it’s ignored as a valid part of your overall healthy lifestyle.
Sleep has evolved into some sort of sign one is lazy rather than proactive about their health!
I may be shouting into the void here, but I’m going to take the importance of sleep one step further and tell you about the benefits of naps. Yes, naps!
Sleep Deprivation’s Effect on Your Body
Before you immediately think this article isn’t for you, trust me on this one. There’s nothing like a nap to completely recharge your entire day. In many cultures around the world, naps are a standard part of daily life and those people have markedly lower chronic stress.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to higher risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, depression, infection, and increased inflammation. Those are just a few examples of the toll lack of sleep takes on your body.
Inflammation is one of the biggest causes and effects of dozens of diseases and conditions according to hundreds of scientific studies.
Quality sleep has been proven – time and time again – to help minimize this threat to human well-being and lower your risk of countless other health problems. Scheduling (and sticking to) 8 hours of consistent sleep every night will change your life.
Unfortunately, the majority of Americans get 6.8 hours per day – and much of that isn’t quality sleep. How can you reverse some of the damage sleep deprivation does to your entire system? Naps are the answer!
The Benefits of Naps in 3 Ways
1. One type of nap is sleeping for around 15 minutes. It allows your mind to sink into light restful sleep which helps with overall cognition (memory and response) and alertness. If you allow yourself a little break, you’ll be ready to take charge of the rest of your day.
Not everyone can take advantage of this short-n-sweet method because it can take time to wind down your brain enough to relax. Listening to soothing meditation audio may help.
2. If you sleep for 30 minutes, your body gets more of a good thing. It allows you more light sleep but not too long. After half an hour, your body sinks into true, deep slumber. Keeping it under 30 minutes avoids feelings of grogginess or irritation afterwards.
This is an excellent choice for someone who tends to get the afternoon “dulls” (this happens about 6 hours after you wake up) when you can barely keep your eyes open.
Again, taking a nap might not be something you’re used to (it isn’t for most in the United States) and it could take time to train your brain to shut down for sleep. Meditation (audio-assisted or mental techniques) are a good workaround.
3. If you want the full benefits of naps, you want a nap that lasts around 90 minutes (or even a little more). This is the nap I’d suggest if you have a thought-intensive job, tend to lag in the last half of your day, or don’t always get the quality 8 hours at night.
For instance, if you have a new baby in the house and your sleep is often interrupted, a 90-minute nap can help alleviate the damage of on-going sleep deprivation. A nap can’t replace a good night’s rest but it can certainly help improve your focus if you’re not getting it and slow the long-term effects.
Prepare yourself for this kind of nap in the same way you’d prepare to sleep at night. Get comfortable, cool, and relaxed…then sleep your way to calm refreshment.
Giving yourself this little window to cycle down is going to change your life. Nothing boosts energy, alertness, and stamina like rest.
Consider a Nap…Your Body Will Thank You!
I could go on about the importance of sleep. I’ve written about this incredible (and overlooked) method of looking better, feeling better, and aging slower many times.
Naps are the natural extension of that philosophy but I know everyone is busy racing from one task to the next. Let me give you few more reasons to close your eyes for a little while.
5 Proven Benefits of Naps
- Improve heart health. Sleep is a great way of managing stress effectively, lowering inflammation, and protecting your heart. Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects more than 1-in-3 American adults and one of the major causes of HBP is stress. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is also worsened by stress and inflammation.
- Better mood and attitude. No one intends to be cranky but sometimes, we just need a nap! There’s a reason irritable children are encouraged to sleep! If you’re feeling snappish and overly frustrated, give yourself some time to rest and reboot.
- Control your weight. Sleep deprivation is connected to obesity according to several prominent weight-loss studies. A tired body produces more of a hormone called ghrelin and lowers your body’s production of leptin. Ghrelin tells your body, “I’m hungry.” Leptin tells your body, “I’m full.” When these are out of whack…so is your weight.
- Boost your memory. Each night when you sleep, your brain stores memories of the day. If you’ve crammed a lot of information – such as training, studying, writing a book, and so on – into your brain in the first half of the day, consider napping to “fix” it permanently in your long-term memories.
- Live longer (no, seriously). The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their findings that individuals who consistently get fewer than 6 hours of quality sleep each night have a higher risk of chronic disease and early death.
There are other benefits of naps that haven’t been as well-researched as the points above such as having younger looking skin and increased libido.
One major area that a solid nap can help you is before you get behind the wheel of a car. The CDC reported that sleep deprivation played a part in “72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.” Their survey also found that far too many Americans fall asleep behind the wheel on a regular basis. This puts all of us at risk.
Until now, perhaps you considered a nap as something that was only for children. The fact is, too many adults are going without the true quality rest their bodies need to function properly.
You might be unwilling (or unable) to nap.
However, listening to your body is crucial. If you’re being plagued with severe headaches, feel “hungover” even if you haven’t been drinking, have moments of forgetfulness, or can’t concentrate…soak up the proven benefits of naps.
Pick an option, set your alarm, and give your entire system the rest it’s begging for!