Benefits Of Napping
We’ve all experienced being in the middle of the afternoon when that bout of tiredness sets in. Maybe it doesn’t happen often, and maybe it’s on a day you didn’t sleep well the night before, but the urge to take a nap becomes very real. If you’re ever hard on yourself for wanting to take a nap, we’re here to tell you that you don’t need to be. Naps can actually be very beneficial.
An average adult needs about seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but that doesn’t always happen. That’s when a nap can help you fill your sleep schedule. Naps in moderation are not something to frown upon as they can help with:
- Helping you get the recommended amount of sleep each night
- Recharging you during the day if you’re tired
- Improving memory
- Easing stress
- Boosting your mood
- Improving heart health
As long as you aren’t sleeping in excess and shirking responsibilities (which can, in turn, create more stress), there’s nothing wrong with napping from time to time.
Disadvantages Of Napping
Naps aren’t always a good idea, though. For instance, if you’re taking too many naps, it can mess up your nighttime sleep schedule. If you’ve fallen out of your nighttime sleep schedule, it will continue to affect your circadian rhythm and throw off your entire day. If you can’t figure out how to get your sleep schedule back on track, it might be time to talk to your doctor for tips on resetting your sleep schedule.
The Different Kinds Of Naps
Not all naps are created equal. In fact, there are probably endless types of naps, but we’ll go over some of the most common ones you might encounter. It’s not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with nap types, especially if you’re a fan of napping.
- Power nap: Everyone’s probably referenced a “power nap” at some point. It’s those short naps that you try to squeeze in when you’re tight on time but really just need a few moments of shut-eye. The ideal power nap length is generally in the 15- to 30-minute range, and while that seems too short to make a difference, if you’re especially tired, it can make all the difference in the world. A power nap truly has the power to get you through the rest of the afternoon on a particularly tiring day.
- Recovery nap: These are exactly what they sound like. These are designed for the days after a night where you didn’t quite fulfill your sleep needs, and you need more time. The length of these varies but should still stay under an hour so as to not ruin the following night of sleep. With these, it’s important to take note of how often they’re happening. If you find yourself taking recovery naps often, then there might be something wrong with your nighttime sleep quality.
- Prophylactic nap: This nap is a form of preparation. If you know you need to be up all night for something, whether you’re studying or will be traveling, you might take a prophylactic nap in the afternoon to take the edge off during the night. The timing on these is also up to you and will vary based on how much sleep you’re cutting out during the night.
- Essential nap: These are usually the naps you take when you’re sick or maybe you just had surgery, and your medication is wearing off. They’re truly essential to your health and your physical ability to function. Essential naps often run long as your body repairs itself.
- Fun naps: Sometimes, you just feel like napping for no reason, and that’s okay. You can call these whatever you want, but they’re naps for the sake of napping. The optimal nap time here, though, should still be under an hour.
How Long Should I Nap For?
Despite how tired you are, the best amount of time to nap is no more than an hour at a time. Experts say that an hour or less will still give you enough sleep to recharge you for the rest of the day without messing up your sleep schedule. If you sleep too long, you might enter a REM cycle, which is something you want to avoid if you don’t have enough hours to dedicate to sleep. If you sleep a few hours midday, you might end up waking up feeling groggy and more tired than you did to start.
Tips On How To Take A Great Nap
- Keep naps brief: Power naps are your best bet. Aim for no more than 30 minutes of sleep.
- Take naps earlier rather than later: Try to nap before 2 p.m. so you’re not cutting it too close to bedtime. Later in the day can affect how well you sleep at night.
- Sleep in the dark: Place yourself in a comfortable setting so you can fall asleep quickly and easily.
- Don’t force it: If you feel tired but you lay down and don’t fall asleep, don’t continue to lay there. Get up and keep going about your day and try again later if you still feel tired.
- Set an alarm: Alarms aren’t fun, but set one so you can stay on track for the day.
Effects Of Napping By Age Group
Not only are there different types of naps, but everyone has different needs when it comes to napping, especially when it comes to different ages. Let’s take a look at the effects of napping by age group.
Up until they’re a year old, babies will almost certainly be taking two naps a day. When born, you don’t yet have a sleep schedule or circadian rhythm, so as babies figure that out, they sleep on and off. They also have a lot of needs they can’t handle themselves, so they sleep until feedings or diaper changes become a little more routine.
Kids also can benefit from naps. Like adults, it’ll help fill in any sleep gaps from the nighttime, but because kids are also still developing, naps can help with this process. Studies have shown that naps can also help children’s brains develop and assist in learning and cognitive function. They can also keep kids physically fit. If kids are too tired, they tend to be less active, but if they squeeze in a nap and have energy when they wake up, they’re more likely to be active.
Life can be hard for teenagers, especially when it comes to school stress. Studies have shown that naps can help teens perform better in school because they’re less tired and can think more clearly. Naps can also lessen some of that stress and anxiety by giving their bodies a chance to relax and regroup.
Naps for adults can improve your mood, keep you more alert during the latter half of your day, keep your nighttime sleep schedule on track, and even lower your blood pressure. Up to two to three naps per week for no more than 30 minutes at a time is perfectly healthy for adults.
Studies have shown that seniors who nap have improved cognitive function. Seniors also tend to feel more tired than those of a younger age and will require more naps.
Is It Normal To Need A Nap Every Day?
If you’re getting enough sleep at night, you shouldn’t need a daily nap. If you are finding that you do, check with your doctor to see if there are any underlying health issues going on.
Is Napping After Eating Bad?
Sleeping after eating isn’t a great idea, because it can affect the speed of digestion, leaving you uncomfortable. It can also make it more difficult to sleep, and if your nap isn’t satisfactory, you might feel more groggy than you did to begin with.
Are Naps Healthy Or Not?
Naps are not a bad thing. Excessive napping can be, though. Taking short naps a few times a week should not negatively affect your health, but if you feel like you need a nap every day and are constantly tired, you should check with your doctor.
Can Naps Replace Sleep?
No, your body still needs a full sleep cycle to be able to repair itself and keep you healthy. Short naps won’t give you the proper circadian rhythm that a longer period of sleep will.
Is A Two-Hour Nap Too Long?
Unless you’re sick or recovering from something, naps should generally stay under an hour. Longer than an hour of sleep midday will mess up your sleep for the following night, and you’ll also run the risk of entering REM sleep. If you enter REM sleep during a nap but don’t sleep long enough, your nap will end up being unfulfilling.
What Is A Good Length For A Nap?
Naps should be under an hour long. Power naps are the best option because they’ll provide you with enough sleep to make a difference but not so much sleep that you’re groggy.
If you’ve asked the question, “are naps good for you?” then you’ll be happy to know that yes, they can be. Don’t feel bad about taking naps. They help your body recharge during the day and can help you recover from a poor night of sleep. You know how important sleep is to your overall health, and making sure you get enough of it is crucial. Taking a few naps a week is no problem, but if you find that you need naps every day and you’re sleeping for hours at a time, check with your doctor for further tips on how to clean up your sleep habits.