You Snooze, You Win! The Mental Benefits of Taking Naps
Not sleeping well? Most experts recommend not taking a nap. But here’s the thing… Naps aren’t all bad. Sometimes you just need ‘em to get through the rest of your day. Overall, some individuals even consider it part of proper mental health care.
Some of the brightest minds in history took naps. Naps got Sir Winston Churchill through World War II. Einstein took regular naps throughout his day. There’s clearly something to it.
Thus, napping isn’t just for babies, toddlers, and the elderly. You too can reap the benefits of taking a nap.
No, I’m not just making this up. A 2010 study suggested short naps can reduce fatigue and boost alertness. The interesting part of this study was that researchers discovered that regular nappers received more benefits from napping than the rare napper, meaning if you want to improve your mental health care through naps, you may want to start doing it on the regular.
But there’s more! Napping decreases stress, increases creativity, improves your sex life, may help you lose weight, improves your motor skills and coordination, enhances your mood, and may significantly improve your memory. Let’s take a closer look at the mental benefits of napping and how it may help decrease mental health issues in your life.
You’ll Remember More
You walk upstairs. You get to the top of the stairs and stand there. You look around. What the heck did you come up here for? Don’t you hate when that happens? Isn’t it frustrating? So you walk back down. And voila, you needed to grab your laptop from your room. Back up you go.
Napping improves your memory. Sleep plays a critical role in memory processing and storage. Basically, it helps you to remember. No more walking up to the second floor and forgetting why you did that in the first place. Maybe all you need is a few more naps during your day.
Napping Helps You Learn Better
With an improved memory comes improves learning skills. In one study, nappers were able to learn language skills better than the non-nappers. The study suggested that the nappers remembered what they learned better when taking a nap immediately after learning the set skills or activity. Interesting, isn’t it?
So, if you’re cramming for a big test or want to remember something, writing it down or repeating it to yourself before bed could help you!
A Little Power Nap is Your Cure to a Bad Day
It improves your perspective and enhances your mood. In other words, it relaxes you, making your outlook and day a little better. Sometimes a bit of rest is all it takes.
Experts recommend a short snooze - about 10-20 minutes. Even if you don’t actually fall asleep, it can have positive calming effects.
A Nap May Help You Focus
Napping increases your alertness. Consequently, your focus and concentration abilities vastly improve. You nap. You get tasks done! I mean who hasn’t struggled with that mid-afternoon/post-lunch crash? It’s a tough battle to win. Maybe give into it a little bit? Set a timer for 10 minute, rest, and then get back to it! Trust us, you’ll feel better afterward, and you’ll likely be more productive.
Feeling Stressed? Take a Snooze!
When you’re tired, your stress hormones don’t exactly calm down. In fact, they do quite the opposite. Your body pumps them out in an effort to keep you going. But you can fight them. A quick 10-20 minute nap can significantly reduce your stress levels.
Again, it comes back to calming you and setting you in a more relaxed state of mind.
Feed Your Creativity with Regular Napping
If you work in a job that requires creativity, napping might really help you out. Sleep activates the imagery part of your brain, and it can help you connect the dots or pull information together that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Find new solutions and sleep through your problems (maybe, you know what I mean). You might just wake up with all the answers.
Okay, But How Should You Take a Nap? Is There a Right Way?
Aim for 10-20 minutes. Any longer and you may fall into a deep sleep, which could potentially leave you feeling more groggy than before (not ideal).
Take it when you need it, such as after your lunch or during that mid-day slump. If you can, try to find a dark, quiet, and comfortable spot to rest. If that’s not possible, here are must-haves for getting that optimal nap:
- Invest in a sleep mask. Darkness helps your body ease into sleep. Light inhibits this process. It reduces your melatonin levels - causing you to stay awake and alert, which isn’t exactly what you’re after when you’re trying to nap.
- Try ear plugs. Is it particularly loud where you’re trying to take a nap? Block out that noise! Decrease your distractions, and just relax.
- Melatonin may help. Melatonin makes you sleepy. If you need or desire a longer nap, it could help you get that solid sleep you need. It may also help with your power nap - you just want to make sure you don’t take too much or again, you’ll be more groggy getting up than you were before.
- Travelling? Or are you trying to snooze in the office? A travel pillow provides support for your neck and shoulders. That way you won’t wake up with a kink or a stiff neck.
Make Naps Part of Your Mental Health Care Toolkit
Why not try it out? Remember, the more regularly you nap, the more benefits you’ll get. It works best when you find a duration and time of day that works for you and stick with it. Your body adapts. Become a happier and more alert version of yourself. Nap for a better day and a better life.
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