A poor night’s sleep can impact your day in many ways. Being under-rested can affect your mood, ability to concentrate, and memory, and can impair your judgment and decision-making skills.
Still, it can be difficult to get a quality eight hours of rest each night. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to help you catch up on your sleep. Take a quick nap.
In Western culture, most organizations don’t openly encourage napping. In fact, many people view napping as irresponsible or a waste of time, especially when there is work to be done. But napping strategically can have benefits, and doctors and sleep experts may even recommend napping to help you get through the day.
Here are five important reasons to consider making more time for naps.
1. Naps Help Reduce Drowsiness
One of the common reasons people take naps is to relieve drowsiness throughout the day.
Maybe you stayed up late watching TV or had to finish a project on deadline. Staying up late can cut into your sleep schedule and leave you feeling drowsy during the day. Drowsiness will make you less productive, so spending 20 minutes napping could increase your productivity.
People with certain medical conditions or insomnia may also have trouble sleeping and may feel drowsy during the day. If that’s the case for you, it’s important to take advantage of the times when you are sleepy to make sure your body gets the rest it needs.
2. Naps Fit in Your Schedule
Sometimes fitting a full eight hours of sleep into your schedule can be difficult, especially if you have kids to care for or if you work an atypical schedule. In these instances, naps can be a great way to fit sleep into your schedule.
You don’t have to take a long nap either. Sometimes just 20 to 30 minutes can be enough to help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. Don’t stress about a bad night’s sleep if you know you can make up for it later.
3. Naps Reduce Sleep Debt
Sleep debt is the difference between how much sleep you need and how much sleep your body receives. Acute sleep debt is the total sleep debt you’ve acquired in the past two weeks.
Naps can help reduce your acute sleep debt. By catching a couple Zzzs here and there, you can get your body back to a healthy state of rest. Rest will allow your brain and body to function optimally and reduce your chance of getting sick.
A short nap, however, may not be enough to resolve chronic sleep debt (sleep debt incurred over long periods of time) right away. For this, you’ll need a more strategic plan for meeting your body’s needs through sleep.
READ: Why Sleep Deprivation Is a Silent Killer
4. Naps Reduce the Risk of Disease
Napping can help your overall health and specifically reduce your risk of contracting diseases.
In a study on people in Greece, researchers discovered those who napped regularly reduced their risk of developing coronary heart disease by 37 percent. To see the benefits to their overall health, participants only needed to nap one to two times a week.
Getting more rest during the week can also help your body sustain and support energy, muscle growth, and your immune system.
5. Naps Can Help You Be More Productive
Many people resist taking naps because they believe it will cut into their productivity, especially during the workday.
However, a Harvard Business study found that those who took a midday nap often returned to work more productive than employees who hadn’t napped at all. The 20 to 30 minutes you spend napping can result in a much higher return on your time than if you were to power through your day without getting the additional rest.
For this strategic approach to napping, make sure you squeeze your nap in before 4 PM (right after lunch is a good time) and keep it short.
READ: The Costs of Living an Unfocused Life
Productive Example: Napping for Pilots
Napping is an excellent way to reduce drowsiness and make fuller and more productive.
This is especially important if you have other people relying on you to perform a job that can put their wellbeing and safety at risk.
Airline pilots, for example, benefit tremendously from napping. Many people feel cautious about their pilot falling asleep while flying the plane, so the payoff of a nap could be worth it.
According to NASA research, a 40-minute nap can increase alertness by 100 percent and improve a pilot’s performance by 34 percent.
The Bottom Line
Although there’s a stigma around napping in our culture, especially in today’s busy world, napping can be a healthy and beneficial way to spend your time.
When you consider the benefits, you may determine that napping is the key to better productivity and health in the long run. So, the next time the urge to take a quick snooze strikes, try not to feel guilty.
Looking for support to create healthy, sustainable habits, such as getting better rest? See how an Arootah Life Coach can help.
Do you take naps? How do you feel about taking a nap during the workday? Tell us in the comments.