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While napping can’t take the place of a good night’s sleep, it does offer numerous health benefits when done right. The Sleep Foundation points out that over 85% of mammals “are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they sleep for short periods throughout the day.” Humans are not in that category, but perhaps they should be.
Napping creates several benefits, including the ability to refresh and recharge, which in turn, boosts alertness and improve motor performance. The length of your nap affects the level of benefits you receive.
Naps between 20 and 90 minutes may be helpful but often result in a groggy feeling upon waking. It’s best to set an alarm to ensure you receive the amount of sleep you require.
Regular naps have been known to reduce cortisol levels and lower tension, thereby reducing your risk of heart disease. The best time to take a short nap is between the hours of 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. It’s at this point during the day that your blood sugar dips and your energy is at its daily low.
Napping can also boost your mood, particularly after a bad night of sleep. After tossing and turning all night, you may awake to the alarm feeling grumpy and impatient. A short nap can erase those symptoms and help you feel chipper again. In fact, a nap is more effective than a cup of coffee, which can affect the upcoming night’s rest.
Studies show that 29 percent of workers report being excessively sleepy – or even falling asleep – at work. A lack of sleep costs US companies $63 billion per year in lost productivity. In light of these statistics, some companies are proactively combating grogginess and lack of sleep through on the job naps.
If you experience fatigue or sudden, unexpected sleepiness, you might want to consider taking an afternoon nap. Other reasons to consider a snooze include the desire to add the benefits of regular naps to your daily routine or you are about to experience sleep loss, such as when you have to work late or stay up late for other reasons.
If you have suddenly become sleepy each afternoon for no apparent reason, you may want to discuss the issue with your doctor. A sudden increased need for additional sleep – be it longer nighttime sleep or daytime rests – could indicate a health problem that is disrupting your nighttime sleep or a sleep disorder, such as apnea or narcolepsy. It also, however, could be related to a prescription medicine which interferes with your quality of sleep or causes daytime sleepiness. An appointment with your doctor to fully discuss the issue and determine the cause and solution is recommended.
When utilizing naps, keep in mind these parameters: