The benefits of sleep are well-documented. Not only does it help promote a healthy lifestyle, but getting in enough hours during the night makes you more alert, and ready to face the day.
Though the pros of being well-rested are commonly associated with a good night’s sleep, the can also come from short naps during the middle of the day.
The Benefits of Extra Sleep
Naps come with a certain stigma, because many people associate them cranky children rather than stressed out adults.
However, all types of naps, from short micro naps to longer power naps, can help make you into a more productive person.
1. Improve Cognitive Performance
Nobody works well when they are tired. In fact, a lack of sleep can wear on the brain and cause you to lose focus on your tasks. Napping helps the mind recharge, increases mental sharpness, and ensures you’ll stay alert while working.
In fact, six-minute naps have been shown to increase memory. In one study, participants who got a 40-minute nap were able to recall 42% more information than the group that did not nap. While it is often tempting to reach for a cup of coffee, research shows that longer rests work better than caffeine at improving both learning and motor skills.
Those benefits help you stay engaged with your work, which keeps your productivity at a much higher level.
2. Cut Back on Stress
Another way naps help increase productivity is by actively reducing stress.
Pressure is a large issue for those with a busy lifestyle. The more of it you have weighing on you, the easier it is to become distracted or lose focus.
Taking short naps daily has been proven to lower blood pressure, and reduce stress from external sources.
3. Reduce Fatigue
No matter how fast you go, or how much coffee you drink, days can drag on. That drag can cause both mental and physical fatigue, both of which make it harder to concentrate on the most basic tasks.
Even if you don’t have time for a full 90-minute REM cycle, getting a few minutes of shut eye during the middle of the day goes a long way towards getting you back in a productive state of mind.
A 2015 study found that even a quick nap can cause individuals to feel less impulsive and frustrated. By reducing fatigue and frustration, nappers saw an increase in positive mood and even reported an improved immune system.
However, naps shouldn’t be considered as a replacement for quality sleep at night. 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night is recommended, even if naps are a part of your daily routine. This sleep calculator can help you get to bed at the right time so you maximize your sleep hours and wake up at your desired time.
4. Increase Focus
Being sleepy during the day clouds your judgement and reduces your ability to pay attention to the task at hand. In fact, research has shown that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk drinking.
A daytime nap, even as short as 60 minutes, can replenish the brain as much as a full 8 hours of sleep in the short term. A well-timed nap can improve focus and your ability to concentrate on work and other daily tasks.
5. Improve Physical Performance
The benefits of napping go beyond mental improvement. Napping has been shown to improve motor performance and accuracy. One study on naps showed that athletes who took a post-lunch nap reported increased speed, strength and reaction time than those who missed out on the extra shut eye.
As it turns out, beauty sleep is also very real. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can make you look less healthy and less attractive. Some research goes so far as to suggest that proper sleep can do better than treatments like Botox for making skin look young and healthy.
Naps may even go so far as to help keep us alive longer. A Greek study found that men who napped three times a week had a 37% lower risk of dying from heart disease.
Hard Rest, Hard Work
Naps aren’t just for kids. Though many adults choose not to take them, a quick bout of shut eye is proven to make you more productive, alert and healthy.
Even if you don’t have a lot of extra time during the day, a few minutes of much-needed rest each afternoon can go a long way towards helping you get the most out of your waking hours.