[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]Y[/su_dropcap]ou may think of naps as exclusively for young children. Or you may hold the idea that napping during the day will keep you from getting a good night’s sleep later. These sleep myths have given adult napping a bad name—so much so that Americans in particular are becoming more and more sleep-deprived. However, research has begun to break down the long-held beliefs about napping past childhood. Studies from respected organizations such as Harvard University have shown that for adults, naps are just as powerful and important for maintaining good health and restoring our energy levels as it is for children.
[blockquote type=”intext”]“While caffeine may have a more immediate effect, naps fully refresh the entire body… This makes naps much more likely to keep us focused than a quick hit of caffeine.”[/blockquote]
We have previously discussed a few of the “limitless” benefits of a “power nap,” which have been shown to enhance both alertness and memory. In this post, we look at napnook’s continuation of the Top 10 Benefits of the Power Nap, 4-6; specifically, how power napping can change your outlook on life by boosting your mood, dissolving your anxiety, and recharging your energy.
4. Power napping elevates your mood
When we are woken by alarms without having gotten a good night’s sleep, many of us simply hit the snooze button to get an extra five or ten minutes of rest. However, this may actually do more harm than good, particularly to our emotional balance. When we wake up quickly and go right back to sleep, our bodies release two hormones—one that wakes us up, and another that puts us to sleep. These two hormones, serotonin and dopamine, send out conflicting signals that ultimately make us drowsy and less alert—and, as LiveScience and Gizmodo explain, grumpier and less emotionally stable.
Instead of snoozing for a few extra minutes, experts at the National Center for Biotechnology Information argue that the better option is to take a power nap of twenty minutes sometime during the day. A brief but impactful rest prevents the body from falling into a deep sleep and releasing those conflicting hormones that will drag your mood and energy down.
5. Power napping dissolves stress
We all have days when pressure mounts and our to-do list seems to grow rather than shrink. This can cause levels of anxiety and stress, leading to further health problems like high blood pressure.
However, napping can also help in this regard. Researchers at Allegheny College asked participants to complete a cardiovascular reactivity test that increased their blood pressure and pulses, similar to how the body reacts to stress and anxiety. Then, a portion of the participants took a 45-minute daytime nap while the rest of the group remained awake. Those who had napped showed significant improvements to their blood pressure and pulses over those who did not nap. These results indicate that napping can play a role in lowering blood pressure, which, in turn, can help alleviate the feeling of stress in the body.
6. Power napping prevents burnout
Have you heard of the “2 o’clock feeling?” Essentially, 2pm is the time of day at which our bodies lose focus and mental agility, causing us to become more easily distracted. Oftentimes, the solution is to grab a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage to get through the rest of the day.
However, a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research recommends skipping the coffee and instead heading for bed. While caffeine may have a more immediate effect, the study notes, naps fully refresh the entire body, including our cells and neurotransmitters. This makes naps much more likely to keep us focused than a quick hit of caffeine. And unlike that cup of coffee, your body won’t get addicted to napping, nor will you build up a resistance to it the way we do with caffeine.
The effects of fatigue are undeniable: it causes us to lose focus, heightens our stress and anxiety, and ends up leaving us feeling burned-out and scattered. However, many of our modern methods of dealing with fatigue, like snooze buttons and caffeine, serve only to make us feel minimally better and do not get to the root of the problem. Instead of resetting our alarm clocks or reaching for a cup of coffee, incorporating just 20 minutes of sleep into our days turns out to be one of the best ways to combat daily fatigue. Just one power nap a day may help you say goodbye to that drowsy, stressed-out version of yourself and hello to the restful, relaxed, centered person you’ve always wanted to be.
Are you a power napper? How has napping improved your overall mood?