Borrowing from Shakespeare's Hamlet, "To nap or not to nap, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer from the sling and arrows of outrageous fatigue, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and take a nap."
For many of us that is the question, do we continue to suffer in fatigue or get more sleep? The haze of fatigue should not be something we plainly accept. We are inundated with messages that we must be efficient, work longer, work harder, or fill time with activities in order to keep up with neighbors, friends, or co-workers. Society places such a high priority on efficiency, that we are conditioned to believe fatigue is normal.
Feeling sleepy, unfocused, or just plain tired should not be the new norm. Instead, a nap might be just what you need. While getting a good night’s sleep is always the best, sometimes it’s not possible. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but many people fall short of that, with 1 in 3 adults reporting they sleep an average of 6 or fewer hours a night. So grab your pillow and let's learn why naps may be part of the solution!
Why should you consider adding a nap to your life? Here are 5 benefits of taking a nap:
1. Boosts your Mood
Just a 15 to 20 minute nap can improve your mood. In fact, research from Allegheny College suggests that a nap can help your body better handle anxiety, which has lasting benefits for your mood and your overall health. People who lack sleep are also more likely to develop depression. So don't feel sad about taking a nap, it will actually benefit you! So go ahead and indulge in that nap.
2. Provides Short-term Alertness
If you’re feeling that mid-afternoon drag and are finding it hard to focus, a 20 to 30 minute nap can improve alertness and performance without disrupting your nighttime sleep patterns. We are fans of the siesta! Early afternoon is a great time to sneak in a short nap so you can finish strong the rest of the day.
3. Increases Ability to Learn and Focus
A study from UC-Berkeley found that the longer you’re awake, the more sluggish your brain becomes. A nap provides a quick restart for your brain. Study participants who napped during a day of learning were able to pay attention and learn better later the same day. But those who went without a nap were more easily distracted and became worse at learning that day.
4. Reduces Stress
If you’re looking for a simple way to manage stress, naps are proven to reduce stress and strengthen your immune system. Taking a nap can also keep blood pressure in check as a response to stress.
5. Lowers your Health Risks
If you’re struggling to get more than 6 hours of sleep each night, you’re at risk of developing chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, according to a study from the CDC. A short nap can actually reverse the negative health effects of a night of poor sleep, according to a new study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
A nap sounds pretty good now, doesn’t it? The key is to keep it short and nap early enough in the day that it doesn’t affect your sleep at night. Hamlet bemoans the pace of life, but perhaps if he considered a nap every now and then, he might have had a different perspective.
So go ahead, take that nap! Grab one of our pillows and start feeling rested today so you can live life more fully!