Taking an afternoon nap at your work may get you into trouble. But did you know there are multinational companies developing policies to let the employees doze off for a while during working hours? If you think nap time is for the lazy and unproductive. Think again. The drowsy feeling in the afternoon may be a sign that the body needs some time off.
A good night sleep has several pros for a healthy body and mind. It is the most basic activity that helps to revive you from a hectic day. Similarly squeezing in a short afternoon nap in the busy schedule can help boost health and productivity through the day. Many cultures have had a common tradition of taking a nap post lunch like in the Mediterranian and Western European countries. In Spain, the afternoon nap is known as Siesta. A warm climate coupled with a heavy lunch leads to the post-lunch drowsiness, making naptime a fond activity.
Moreover, there is a number of benefits associated with an afternoon nap when it is timed correctly.
Our body is designed for a nap naturally
The homeostatic sleep capacity determines the need to sleep depending on the time elapsed from the last adequate sleep period while the circadian rhythm of the body is the 24-hour clock cycle that maintains the schedule for a deep sleep period within the cycle.
There is usually drowsiness felt when the drive for sleep has been building for hours, that is the homeostatic sleep propensity, and the drive of wakefulness associated with the circadian cycle not kicked in during the afternoon.
Main benefits of an afternoon nap
1) Napping improves the cognitive functions
When you are feeling tired at work, the concentration and focus can plummet inadvertently. The mind tends to get overwhelmed as the capacity of the mind to process and store information decreases. Moreover, the person has a difficulty in making decisions and analysing problems.
These are all part of the cognitive function of the brain that takes a mar when the body is tired or has been into a working mode for a long time without rest.
A nap has positive effects on the brain’s ability to concentrate, think clearly, make better decisions, react quickly, learn new skills and solve problems. A short duration of sleep can consolidate the learning from the wake period on the subconscious level. This helps to strengthen the memory recall by mapping the associated information together in the brain
2) A nap uplifts the mood and reduces stress
If you are in a bad mood or are being bugged by negative thoughts, a short nap can be a great tool to break the streak and put you back on the fertile track. You not only get a new perspective on the problem but also jump onto the productive mode to work around the situation. A nap can untangle the overwhelming information threads from the day and produce a clearer picture to reduce the size of a problem.
Taking a nap can put you into a happier place after you wake up. When the mind and the body is relaxed and rejuvenated there is a boost in energy which uplifts the mood and reduces stress.
3) A nap helps reduce the effects of sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation is a common phenomenon nowadays. With long commutes to work daily people get up early from bed to try to skip the morning rush hours. Also, the late night work commitments may drain the body. An effective sleep schedule can be hard to follow in such a case.
A power nap in the afternoon can be an effective action to counter the adverse effects of sleep deprivation on the body. A sleep-deprived person can experience disorders like headaches, memory loss, irritation, high blood pressure and depression. Napping can satiety the daily sleep requirement of the body and help to restore the balance.
How long should you Nap?
A nap of 20 minutes is ideal for a tight schedule to improve the cognitive functions of the brain such as alertness, concentration and memory recall. It can effectively reduce the stress and uplift the mood. This duration of sleep includes the lightest stage of Non-Rapid Eye Movement (Non-REM) part of the sleep cycle that helps in avoiding the sleep inertia or the groggy feeling after you wake up.
A nap of around 30-60 minutes will lead you to enter the deep sleep mode or the slow wave part of the sleep cycle leading to a feel drowsy and fatigue negating the effects of an effective nap. The sleep inertia can last form half an hour or more.
Whereas, around 90 minutes of sleep will contain a complete sleep cycle including both the Non-REM and REM sleep patterns prompting a revived feeling after you wake up. If you feel the effects of sleep deprivation like a headache, fatigue, body pain, irritation then it is good to go for a 90 minutes nap that can restore the body balance. It also helps in improving memory and creativity.