Benefits of Napping
Many Europeans believe in the benefits of napping and shut down work in the afternoon to allow everyone to take a quick power nap, recharge, and come back to work. In the U.S., a mid-day nap is a luxury and often is perceived as laziness.
Studies have shown that short naps can improve awareness and productivity. You don’t need much; 15 to 20 minutes can make a world of difference.
A study from the University of Colorado Boulder discovered that children who didn’t take their afternoon nap didn’t display much joy and interest, had a higher level of anxiety, and lower problem solving skills compared to other children who napped regularly. The same goes for adults as well. Researchers with Berkeley found that adults who regularly take advantage of an afternoon nap have a better learning ability and improved memory function. Why is napping so essential? Because it gives your brain a reboot, where the short-term memory is cleared out and our brain becomes refreshed with new defragged space.
According to experts, 10 to 20 minutes is quite enough to refresh your mind and increase your energy and alertness. The sleep isn’t as deep as longer naps and you’re able to get right back at your day immediately after waking up. If you nap for 30 minutes you may deal with a 30-minute grogginess period because you wake up just as your body started entering a deeper stage of sleep. The same can be said if you sleep for an hour, but on the other hand, these 60-minute naps provide an excellent memory boost. The longest naps— lasting about 90 minutes—are recommended for those people who just don’t get enough sleep at night. Since it’s a complete sleep cycle, it can improve emotional memory and creativity.
Naps are good for you physical and mental well being so you should practice them as much as you can. However, be advised that you shouldn’t sacrifice nighttime sleeping for an afternoon nap, they should be an addition to a good night sleep.
Make napping a regular part of your healthy lifestyle
Sleep has a wide range of health benefits, from protection against heart disease and obesity to stronger bones and memory. But napping has some particular perks all its own. Below are six healthy reasons to indulge in a siesta. It doesn’t have to be long — even just 20 minutes of daytime shut-eye can make a world of difference.
Once you blink away those first few seconds of grogginess after a nap, you’re likely to benefit from a boost of alertness. A NASA study found higher measures of alertness in pilots after a 40-minute snooze. Even just 20 minutes has been shown to perk up shift workers, according to Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Onestudy found that after a 10-minute nap, study participants reported feeling more alert.
Improve Learning And Memory
It’s the REM sleep that’s been linked with the cognitive process. It takes a longer nap to reap real brain benefits, but if you can squeeze in an hour, or 90 minutes, you may find your mental fatigue has vanished upon waking. A longer nap may leave you a little groggy, but has a longer benefit to brainpower. MRI scans show that brain activity remains higher in nappers all day compared to people who don’t take a nap.
Ever waked up suddenly knowing the solution to what’s bugging you? A team of researchers set about monitoring the brain to attempt to figure out why the light bulb turns on after napping. They discovered a burst of activity in the right hemisphere, the side most strongly linked to creativity, Health.com reported. An earlier study found that longer naps that allowed sleepers to enter REM led to better performance on a series of creative word problems, National Geographic reported. Boosts Productivity
Experts agree that an afternoon nap is in fact the opposite of laziness in the workplace: That siesta can actually improve work output. A short power nap can be just the right pick-me-up for sleep deprived, worn-out employees, sleep researcher Sara Mednick told Businessweek.
Lift Your Spirits
Think back to the last time you were around a toddler who hadn’t napped. It’s not a pretty picture, is it? A quick nap is a well-documented mood booster.
Part of the reason a nap can get you smiling might be related to relaxation. The sheer luxury of escaping for a nap can be a great stress-reliever, even if you don’t sleep for long (and as long as you don’t let the stigma against napping get to you). The National Sleep Foundation recommends considering it “a mini-vacation.” And don’t stress if you can’t actually doze off in your allotted 10 minutes: A 2007 study found that asleep or not, a short period spent resting in bed is just as relaxing.
Foods to Help You Sleep
In one small study, participants drank eight ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning, and another eight ounces in the evening, for two weeks and reported better sleeping habits. Why does it work? All varieties of cherries are naturally high in melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Eat a cup of whole cherries as a late-night snack if you’d rather not drink juice. Fish
Fish are rich in tryptophan, a natural sedative, with shrimp, cod, tuna and halibut having the highest levels, even more than turkey. Since not all seafood choices are healthy (some are high in contaminants) or for the planet (many are overfished, or methods for catching them kill other species), stick to catches like Pacific cod from Alaska or pole-caught Albacore tuna from the U.S. or British Columbia.
This lemon-scented member of the mint family has been a sleep-inducing superstar for ages, but it seems to be most effective in combination with another herb called valerian. In one study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, 81 percent of people with minor sleep problems who took a combination of the herbs reported sleeping better than people on a placebo. Both can be purchased as supplements, or you can make a tea by steeping 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried lemon balm and 1 teaspoon of valerian root in 1 cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. (If you take other medications, though, ask a doctor or pharmacist about any potential herb-drug interactions.)
Another herb that works as well as lemon balm, chamomile has been used as an herbal remedy for insomnia for thousands of years. In one animal study, it calmed down mice as effectively as tranquilizers, and in the only human study to study the effectiveness of chamomile, the herb reduced mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder much better than placebo. Ready-made chamomile teas are sold in every supermarket, so it’s an easy remedy to get your hands on
These perfectly snack-sized superfruits are packed with potassium and magnesium, two minerals that promote muscle relaxation. In fact, magnesium deficiencies are related to restless leg syndrome and nighttime muscle cramps, two conditions that can certainly interfere with your sleep. Make it a goal to eat one banana a day to see if that helps your sleep problems.
In addition to being rich in potassium and magnesium, spinach is high in calcium, yet one more mineral that plays a role in sleep. Calcium helps the body generate melatonin, the hormone that helps your body maintain its circadian rhythm. You can get the same benefits from other dark leafy greens, such as Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens and collard greens.
Like spinach, dairy products are rich in melatonin-boosting calcium, and a number of studies are finding that calcium deficiencies are linked to poor sleep quality. So there may be something to that old adage that a glass of warm milk will help you sleep, after all!
They’re full of magnesium and yet another source of calcium. You can eat a handful of almonds or spread some almond-butter on a piece of whole grain bread, which will help you get to sleep for another reason .
There’s some debate as to how well your body handles tryptophan, and a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that getting it from high-protein foods can work against you, because protein can prevent tryptophan from entering your brain. But when you combine high-protein foods with carbs, the insulin your body produces in response to the carbs makes it easier for tryptophan to break through your brain’s barriers. So think oatmeal with bananas and almonds, for a real sleepy snack, or whole-grain cereal with organic milk.