Dreaming of daytime slumber? You’re not alone. In a sleep-deprived nation that often values productivity over rest, people are more exhausted than ever.
Luckily, all hope isn’t lost if you just can’t fit in a few extra Z’s at night. Squeezing in a midday nap can improve your overall health in some seriously surprising ways. Best of all, it only takes a 20-30 minute doze to reap the benefits.
The Many Health Benefits of a Daytime Nap
Whether you’re tired on a daily basis or you’re struck with occasional bouts of daytime sleepiness, naps are an excellent way to rejuvenate the mind and body. Snoozing is also ideal when you know you’ll be awake for a longer period of time than usual, such as a family vacation or a double shift at work.
Below is a comprehensive list of the benefits of napping. From being a better partner to fighting off countless chronic illnesses, find out why you should pencil in a nap on your daily to-do list.
1. Napping Increases Your Focus
Zoning out during meetings or when the kids fill you in on their day? A nap may be just what you need. A daytime siesta refreshes the mind, according to research from the University of California, Berkeley. “The more hours we spend awake, the more sluggish our minds become,” the college reports.
If you’re searching for more proof that napping will perk up the mind, you’re in luck. NASA conducted a study on tired astronauts and military pilots, who reported 100 percent improvement in alertness after a 40-minute nap. Now, that’s impressive!
2. Napping Relaxes and Rejuvenates Your Mind
Many folks push an invisible “On” button each morning and never stop until their heads hit the pillow at night. Napping is a pause button for the brain. It provides a built-in break even on the most stressful of days.
Waking up rejuvenated after some daytime shuteye will make those less-than-pleasant interactions at the office more bearable. Plus, everyday decisions won’t seem so draining.
3. Napping Makes You a Safer Driver
Accidents happen on the road every day, and they’re more likely to occur if you’re sleep-deprived.
Sleepfoundation.org notes that drivers should pull over at a rest area at the onset of tiredness. To avoid a crash, set an alarm, drink a caffeinated beverage, close your eyes, and take a 20-minute nap. It’s better to be late to an appointment or work than be a hazard to yourself and others.
4. Napping Keeps Chronic Diseases Away
Lack of sleep can contribute to many health conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, depression, diabetes, and even cancer, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just another reason to make time for more Z’s. It could potentially prolong your life.
5. Napping Contributes to a Healthy Heart
Our hearts are on duty 24/7, so it makes sense that regular rest is a must for our trusty tickers.
A European Heart Journal medical report found that people short on sleep had an increased chance of dying from a stroke. Getting less than six hours of sleep each night can have serious health implications.
Better sleep habits—including rest during the day—will help keep your heart healthy and happy.
6. Napping Lessens Anxiety
Just one night of sleeplessness can have a significant impact on mental health, according to anxiety.org. If you’re already feeling anxious, depressed, or confused, not getting adequate sleep is likely to worsen symptoms.
Make up for a bad night’s sleep by scheduling an afternoon catnap. If you have trouble justifying a break in your day, consider it much-needed self-care.
7. Napping Improves Your Memory
Processing new information is difficult for sleep-deprived individuals. Retaining the info is equally challenging when the mind is tired and foggy.
A study by University Saarland shows a significant improvement in memory after an hour-long power nap. According to the college, a nap can boost memory retrieval by five times. Yes, daytime sleep could actually make you smarter.
8. Napping Reduces Pain Sensitivity
Skipping out on sleep can actually affect the extent to which you feel pain. One peer-reviewed study on sleep restriction and pain sensitivity found that sleep deprivation can significantly alter tolerance to pain.
If you’re exhausted and feeling the painful effects, prioritize a 30-minute morning nap to bring your tolerance back to normal.
9. Napping Makes You More Creative
Completing everyday tasks may seem like climbing Mount Everest if you haven’t been sleeping. Once the daily must-do list is complete, there’s probably no energy left for fun or creativity.
Fitting in a daytime nap allows those creative juices to flow freely. In fact, health.com reports that just a quick rest gives the right side of the brain a burst of energy. While the right side is busy concocting ideas and chattering away post-nap, the left, logical side continues to rest.
10. Napping Improves Your Mood
If you’re dreading your days or just feeling a little down, a midday rest can actually make you happier.
The Journal of Sleep Research conducted a study on the benefits of napping in health adults, and found that those who nap have a marked improvement in behavior and mood.
11. Makes You Easier to Be Around
There’s no doubt that lack of sleep can lead to grouchiness. While crabbiness can be irritating for sleep-deprived individuals, shifts in mood can also make them intolerable to be around.
A report by menshealth.com bluntly notes that “tired guys can be jerks.” Avoid being known as the cranky guy or gal by squeezing in a daily snooze.
12. Makes You a Better Partner
It’s difficult to have meaningful conversations while struggling to stay awake. Therefore, it’s no surprise that sleep deprivation can take a toll on relationships.
Bedtimenetwork.com explains that napping can help couples stay together. How? Sleep helps regulate cortisol—the hormone that controls stress. “It is possible a nap can save you from an argument that often starts with an elevated stress level,” the sleep experts explain.
13. Napping Improves Your Eating Habits
Regularly munch on sweets to stay awake or overeat at meals? Your body might be trying to tell you something. There’s a scientific reason your hunger and fullness cues take a hike when you’re exhausted.
Stanford University researchers found that sleepiness sparks gherkin—a hormone that tells you when to eat. Simultaneously, leptin—the hormone that triggers fullness—is reduced. If you’re feeling sleepy, replace your next snack with a nap. As a bonus, you may lose some weight.
14. Napping Lessens Impulsivity
If you tend to get frustrated easily and make snap decisions, tiredness may be to blame. A University of Michigan study concluded that men and women who took a 60-minute midday nap are less impulsive and harder to rattle than those who are sleep-deprived.
“Frustration tolerance is one facet of emotion regulation,” noted researcher Jennifer Goldschmied, who conducted the study. “I suspect sleeping gives us more distance [from an emotional event] — it’s not just about the passing of time.”
15. Napping Improves Athletic Performance
Enjoy a solo morning run or a weekend speed walk with friends? Getting plenty of rest can improve your speed, according to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science.
A test group of athletes were divided into two groups; one group sat quietly while the other group took a 30-minute nap. In addition to improvements in heart rate and alertness, the napping athletes ran faster after snoozing.
16. Napping Boosts Your Reaction Time
If there’s anyone who needs to be well-rested on a regular basis, it’s long haul flight operators.
NASA divided a group of test subjects into two subgroups—one of which had the opportunity to nap during flight. The nappers noted a 16 percent increase in reaction time and a 34 percent improvement in performance lapses. It’s no surprise that NASA encourages napping.
17. Napping Reduces the Need for Caffeine
Has your morning coffee habit extended into the afternoon and evening? Research shows that the benefits of napping beat out caffeine in consistency and duration.
If you’re not ready to give up the java, there’s good news. The study found that a combination of caffeine and a midday nap are the ideal solution for daytime sleepiness.
18. Napping Follows Your Circadian Rhythms
Wakefulness and tiredness is determined by circadian rhythms. Afternoon sleepiness is a built-in response to the natural ebb and flow of these rhythms.
Studies show that sleep efficiency is best when naps are taken between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.; that’s because the circadian rhythm naturally dips in the late afternoon.
Note: Evening naps often have the opposite effect; napping too late in the day can cause nighttime insomnia and start a vicious cycle.#
19. Napping Makes You a Better Employee
Naps are often associated with laziness and lack of ambition. In truth, nappers are typically more productive than their non-napping colleagues. Companies like Nike and Uber are catching on, and encouraging employees to nap during the workday.
Sleep scientist Sara Mednick says built-in naps result in increased workplace productivity. “My research shows that people deteriorate during the day,” the sleep expert explained to Bloomberg. “It’s difficult to sustain productivity.”
Mednick suggests that employees schedule a nap right after lunch, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. She adds: “This nap will allow you to be as productive right after the nap as you were before. That’s what a lot of businesspeople need for on-your-feet thinking.”
20. Napping Results in Clearer Skin
If you’re sleep deprived, it’s probably written all over your face. Well-rested folks’ skin is often clearer and younger looking.
A study conducted by University Hospitals may just motivate you to fit in a few extra winks. “Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging,” Dr. Elma Baron shared after completing the study. “Sleep deprived women show signs of premature skin aging and a decrease in their skin’s ability to recover after sun exposure.”
21. Napping Leads to Better Performance in Bed
Sure, sleep deprivation can contribute to relationship problems, but what if we told you it can also result in poor performance in bed?
Research from the University of Chicago shows that lack of sleep decreases sex drive in men. Sleep deprived gents have lower testosterone levels, resulting in low libido and energy, according to the university’s study.
22. Napping Prevents Burnout
Even life’s little stressors can seem unmanageable when exhaustion comes into play. Taking regular naps can prevent mentally burning out, according to a report by the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers found that test subjects’ work performance improved after a quick 30-minute nap.
23. Napping Lowers Your Blood Pressure
If there’s still any doubt that lack of sleep has a negative impact on physical health, the European Society of Cardiology has linked poor sleep to high blood pressure.
The good news? A 60-minute midday nap can significantly lower blood pressure and cut down on the need for medication.
24. Napping Boosts the Immune System
Feeling spent and catching every cold within a 5 mile radius? Lack of sleep may be the culprit.
A study by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism determined that sleep deprived individuals produced double the norepinephrine—a hormone released during times of stress.
25. Napping Helps Shift Workers
As difficult as it is to fall and stay asleep when the rest of the world is snoozing, sleeping can be even more challenging for shift workers.
Several studies have shown that taking a nap before a work shift improves alertness and performance, according to mentalfloss.com. Although caffeine is also effective, a pre-work snooze keeps workers awake and alert much longer.
26. Napping Restores Your Senses
Perpetual sleepiness is like a dimmer switch on the senses, including hearing, sight, and even taste.
“Take a Nap, Change Your Life,” author Dr. Sara C. Mednick encourages men and women to take a daily nap to restore the senses.
27. Napping Prevents Cell Damage
Our bodies are always busy working behind the scenes. Poor sleep habits make it difficult to continue working efficiently.
Lack of sleep leads to cell damage, according to yurielkaim.com. Alarmingly, this damage can lead to disease. Getting adequate sleep, however, repairs the damage from sleep deprivation.
28. Napping Saves You Money
Yes, napping can actually save you money! Rather than taking multiple trips to the local coffee shop or nearby vending machine for a pick-me-up in the form of a latte or energy drink, rest your head on your desk at break time.
29. Napping Fights Alzheimer’s disease
A daily siesta can ward off Alzheimer’s, according to several studies. In an interview with Express.co.uk, Dr. Sylvia Tang explained that “sleep is important for restorative functions, including memory, and now it looks like having a siesta, especially if you are older, may have medicinal purposes.”
30. Napping Helps You Be Present
When exhaustion sets in, the world can be foggy. Fatigue may make you feel like you’re stumbling through your day, and you’re only goal is to get home and crawl in bed.
A short nap can bring clarity, and allows us to be more present in our daily lives. When you’re well-rested, you may experience more joy in everyday activities.
31. Napping Reduces Beer Goggle Syndrome!
If you’re lacking sleep, you may find the people you come into contact with more attractive, according to research. The effect is similar to drinking one too many beers during a night out with friends. This can lead to regrettable decisions.
Sleep deprivation affects the frontal lobe of the brain, which impacts social and sexual behavior and judgement, as well as impulse control. Looking for romance? Get adequate sleep for a better chance of finding the right partner.