Your afternoon nap is not just an excuse to have some lazy time on your own. Today it is a necessity — vital for our health and well-being! Let’s see why!
Siestas fight sleep deprivation
It is obvious, but we need to get this out of the way, because our society is still not taking enough time to sleep. Sleep deprivation is still a huge issue for us, even though we may not realize it. We just gulp another sip of strong black coffee and keep going. This fragrant dark liquid pumps the heart, alerts us for a while, but ultimately disrupts our circadian rhythm and natural sleep patterns. The result is — we feel lethargic and groggy during the day and wide awake in the evening. We keep extending our go-to-bed time, wake up tired and pour the regular cup of morning coffee, and the vicious cycle continues… No wonder all sleep deprivation related diseases are increasing at a racing pace these days. The good news is we can effectively counteract these negative effects by taking simple short naps throughout the day, instead of slurping the next energy drink. This simple habit can significantly lower the risks of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and developing diabetes type 2.
Napping boosts our productivity
We all have some amount of mental energy at our disposal at the beginning of the day. But soon after we take on with our daily routines, we start to deplete this mental energy. Later on our ability to process information and to maintain high productivity declines, especially if our work involves using our mental energy, creativity, the ability to strategize and coordinate, etc. Why is that? The simple answer is the difference between the energy consumption by our consciousness and sub-consciousness. We plan, calculate, strategize, and sustain our willpower with the frontal lobe, which drains a lot of our energy. These activities rapidly load and weary this part of the cortex, which leads to mental fatigue and lowered ability to process information and focus. The way we can restore some of our mental energy is to take a nap or do some meditation. Even 15 minutes of rest can significantly boost our energy level and productivity.
It gives some required rest for the eyes
It is the 21st century and most people work frequently with computers, watch TV, and constantly stare at their phones. And our precious eyes are under a lot of strain and tension. Soon we start to experience the consequences — headaches, migraines, development of short-sightedness (myopia), dry eye syndrome, etc. That is why we need to counteract the problem with regular eye exercises and most of all — rest. By taking a short nap and soothing the tension in eye muscles, we can keep these important organs in better shape, preventing from the rapid deterioration of our sight. Make sure you give your eyes some rest several times a day by relaxing and removing all visual stimuli. You can use palming (covering the eyes with your palms) or put an eye mask during your afternoon nap.
Siestas help us lose weight naturally
Mental exhaustion usually leads to lots of unhealthy cravings. As we talked about earlier, the frontal lobe consumes more energy when working; in comparison to our habitual activities, governed by the sub-consciousness. The frontal lobe is also our willpower storage. That is why most diets fail in the afternoon and in the evening — the brain has been overloaded and tired, and thus — our willpower weakened. This is where the power nap comes in! If we take some short brakes, nap, slow down the thought process and relax, we are able to refresh our brain and cool off the frontal cortex. This gives us a healthy mental boost that enables us to make better choices, especially when it comes to our diet. So, if you want to naturally lose weight and prevent from unhealthy binges, take a nap instead. This might be just the thing you need!
The perfect healthy afternoon siesta
There is no right or wrong way to take short power naps, but there are a few tactics that will help you make the most out of them and maximize their benefits:
1. Use a sleep mask — it will shut down the visual stimuli and give a signal to the brain it is time to rest. If you are at home, you can simply pull the curtains or shades to prevent from light coming in the room.
2. Use the diaphragm breathing technique to further soothe the nervous system and relax your brain. Start by focusing on the muscles of your abdomen and commence breathing through the nose by expanding your belly. Your shoulders and chest should not be moving — you can even put one of your hands on the chest and the other — on your belly. Only the hand on the lower part of the body should be moving as you breathe.
3. Drink a glass of water afterwards — it will wake up the body from the relaxation and hydrate the cells. It is a well-known fact that most of us are chronically dehydrated. By taking a glass of pure water every day after you wake up and after your daily siesta, you will create a powerful healthy habit and a conditioned reflex which is easy to implement and apply regularly.
4. Move the body — if you are at home or you have a suitable work environment, you can even take this practice to the next level with some body movement. Stretching, yoga poses, jumping jacks, etc. It will gently stimulate the blood circulation, enhancing the brain activity, boosting your productivity and energizing your body!
Originally published at medium.com