Not Sleeping Well? Take More Naps.

They can lead to better health, performance, and overall well-being.

By fizkes/Shutterstock
By fizkes/Shutterstock

In America, daytime snoozing is still often viewed as lazy — a guilt-inducing indulgence. But scientific research shows that even a short early afternoon snooze can lead to better health, performance, and overall well-being. Research has found that napping can reduce blood pressure, and that the more you nap, the more you can decrease metabolic risks. What’s more, a recent study with schoolchildren in China concluded that students who napped the longest and the most frequently demonstrated the best school performance. Essentially, naps have many physical benefits, and if you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, napping can be a valuable substitute.

“It’s great to take a short nap to recoup lost sleep and help to make up for a night of poor rest,” says Thrive Global’s Sleep Editor-at-Large, Shelly Ibach, President & CEO of Sleep Number. “The key is to nap by early afternoon so it doesn’t disrupt your nighttime sleep,” she adds.

If it’s realistic for your workday, longer early afternoon naps can be valuable too, says Sara Mednick, Ph.D, an associate professor in the department of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life

“20 minutes [of nap time] is great for a pick me up,” Mednick explains. But if you have more time, “start with 20 minutes… then, if possible, increase it. Sixty to 90 minutes gives you the perfect nap because you experience all the important sleep stages, so you maximize the benefits.”

If you’re stuck at work all day, is it still possible to nap? “If you have a nap room at work, that’s ideal,” Mednick replies. “If not, choose a place where you feel really safe and where you can totally relax. If you can go home from work to nap that’s great, but it could be in your car.” If you’ve chosen the Microstep of taking a short nap, consider this good reason to get creative with your choice of spot, and then get snoozing.

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