three Confirmed Well being Advantages – Cleveland Clinic
You’ve stayed up too long to watch your new favorite show and now you’re moving. You could turn to a venti latte to add some pep to your step. But is there a better way?
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A good old-fashioned nap might just be what the sandman ordered.
“Taking a nap can help you feel a little more energetic, alert and relaxed,” says psychologist and behavioral sleep disorder specialist Michelle Drerup, PsyD.
But not all siestas are created equal. Dr. Drerup explains how a daytime nap can help you – and how to create the perfect nap.
Are naps healthy?
Naps have a lot going for them, says Dr. Drerup. For some people with insomnia, naps can even be an integral part of their treatment plan.
But healthy sleepers can also benefit from an afternoon nap. What can a nap do for you?
If you are nodding off at your desk after a long night, a quick nap can help ease your drowsiness. But you don’t have to be sleep deprived to benefit from a quick lie-down. Various studies have shown that napping can increase alertness, speed reaction time, and improve logical thinking.
Boost your memory
Are you trying to learn a new skill? A nap might be just what you need. Researchers have found that people learning new tasks tend to remember them better after taking a short nap.
One study found that people who napped for an hour were better at remembering new information than people who took a break or were cramped before the test. And of the three groups, the naps a week later remembered the info best.
Help counter frustrations
Napping can help relieve stress and can even turn a sour mood around. Research has shown that people are less impulsive after an afternoon nap and are better at dealing with frustrations.
How to Build a Better Nap
Napping can be a real treat. But some siestas are more helpful than others. Here’s how to make a nap that works.
How long should i sleep?
You don’t need a marathon nap to reap the rewards. In fact, shorter naps tend to be the cutest.
So what’s the magic number? “For most people, a 15 to 30 minute power nap is the best strategy,” says Dr. Drerup. “It’s long enough to feel refreshed, but not so long that you move into deeper sleep phases or take away your sleep drive for the next night.”
Long naps can cause two problems, says Dr. Drerup:
- Insomnia. Have you ever woken up from a nap and felt dizzy and stupid? Guilt is a phenomenon called sluggishness. When we slumber, we go through different phases of sleep. Later phases of sleep are deeper – and waking up is more difficult.
- Insomnia. Sleeping too much during the day can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Then you wake up tired and tempted to take another long nap the next day. “It’s going to be a vicious circle,” says Dr. Drerup.
When should i take a nap?
You don’t need a daily nap to reap the benefits, says Dr. Drerup. But on days when you can accommodate it, a quick power nap can give you a welcome boost.
“Thanks to the natural pattern of our circadian rhythm, it’s common to feel sluggish in the afternoon,” says Dr. Drerup. “If you can’t concentrate or be productive, this may be a good time to take a quick nap.”
However, sleeping too close to bedtime can mess up your nightly sleep. “If you are awake during traditional hours, try to avoid napping after 2 or 3 pm,” she says.
But there are exceptions to this rule. “If you’re working shifts, getting some night’s sleep before your shift can really help keep you alert,” she says. “Similarly, taking a nap before a long drive can help keep you vigilant while you are driving.”
Do you need to take a nap?
While some people may feel refreshed after a power nap, you don’t need to take naps to be healthy, says Dr. Drerup. “People experience the benefits of napping very differently.”
Some people are naturally better at getting off during daylight. Often times, naps become more helpful as you get older. “As we get older, our sleep becomes easier and we wake up more often at night,” explains Dr. Drerup. “For many older adults, napping can help function better.”
But don’t sweat if you have trouble falling asleep during the day. “Don’t worry if you can’t sleep. Some people just can’t sleep well during the day, and that can’t hurt, ”she says.
On the other hand, if you can’t get through a day without going to bed, it can be a sign of a problem. “Relying on long, frequent naps can indicate an underlying sleep disorder or other medical problem,” she says. “Mention it to your doctor to rule out problems.”
When you are healthy and sleep well at night, but are dragging yourself? There’s a nap for that.
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