Who amongst us doesn’t love a good afternoon nap? Snuggling up on the couch for a post-lunch snooze must be one of the purest joys left available to us in this topsy-turvy world.
I’ll bet you’ve always been a little bit ashamed of your propensity to settle down for an hour or two shuteye while the sun is still blazing outside haven’t you? Well, the good news is I’m here to tell you that having a nap is actually good for you. Great in fact!
Read on below, and I will tell you exactly why scheduling time for a midday snooze might be the best decision you will ever make. Power nap your way to a better you!
Napping is Normal
For any napping naysayers out there, or for people who view the habit as just pure laziness I’m going start off by destroying one myth straight away – napping is not just for the work-shy and unemployed. Napping is, in fact, a very healthy activity. According to one study, a full one-third of the American adult population engages in the habit during the average day.
That’s way more than the number of people who go to the gym, have sex, or wash behind their ears each day; and you’d certainly wouldn’t view any of those activities as weird. So maybe it’s time you rethink your nap aversion.
Many of History’s Most Prominent Names Were Nappers
Winston Churchill, the rotund British Prime Minister, who stood firm when faced with the threat of Nazi Germany’s military might, swore by the rejuvenating power of a good nap. In fact, his afternoon snooze was a non-negotiable part of his daily schedule. Such was his addiction to a post-lunch snooze that he had a bed moved into the Houses of Parliament.
If having a nap is worked wonders for the leader of a country fighting for its very survival, imagine the impact it could have on that report your trying to finish.
What, you say you can’t imagine the impact? Well, you’re in luck I’m about to tell you.
Napping Boosts Motivation
Why is it that some days we’re absolute work machines, skipping through our to-do lists, flinging out emails, brainstorming like legends and basically taking care of business like, well, like nobody’s business. Then other days were a shadow of ourselves, struggling even to remember our own name.
The answer is likely to do with how well you slept the night before. Poor sleep impacts almost every aspect of our life. The solution, a power nap. Think of an hour’s nap like a shot of the strongest espresso, only without the horrible caffeine crash a couple of hours later.
A good nap will revitalize you, re-energize your body and allow you to refocus on the task at hand, such as finishing that pesky report.
Napping Boosts Your Memory and Learning
Neuroscience has long known the link between sleep and memory. As in the more, you get of the former the better the latter performs. Guess what, having a nap counts as sleep!
Memory has three main processes, acquisition, consolidation and recall. Being well rested helps at every stage of the process.
A well-rested brain is like a brand new computer it has substantially better processing power than even a model from last year. This means it has a higher ability to process new information and then to retain this information for later. Why? Well because a well-rested brain can make new neural connections easier, and recall information and recognize patterns far better than a tired one.
Naps Aid Decision Making
Chronic poor sleep has been shown to impact our cognitive performance in a number of ways negatively. Most notably speed and accuracy. The result of this is that our brain is put under increased duress when it comes to decision making and we burn more energy than we should while making simple choices. We make poorer decisions when we lack the mental power to think things through.
If you struggle to sleep soundly at night a nap, even a very short one can have a significant impact on your decision making powers. You’ve likely heard the phrase, “let’s sleep on it,” those people aren’t just lazy, they’re sensible.
Use a Good Nap As a Performance Enhancer
Now you know this information you can use it to your advantage. Think of having a nap like a performance enhancer. A natural one, with no side effects. If you have a big presentation coming up or maybe you are about to get briefed on a new project, try having a power nap first. You’ll be surprised how much clearer your thinking is and how much more information you will take in, and retain later.
Or, if you are studying a language, for instance, try having a nap soon after your study session. Study after study has shown that having a wee snooze shortly after taking in new information increases the likelihood of your being able to recall it later. Napping makes you a sharper, healthier and all-around better person.
Don’t believe me, give it a go and thank me later. Happy napping!