Wellness Wednesday: Top Ten Benefits of a Nap (and Helpful Tips)

Gerry taking a nap

One of my (Gerry) favorite pastimes and healthy habits is a brief afternoon nap or siesta, as they are sometimes referred to. There are many healthy benefits to a good nap and we’ll get to those in a minute. First, we should mention what to avoid in order to get the proper benefits from your nap. 

  • You want to keep your nap short, preferably 10-20 minutes to keep from feeling groggy when you awake. 
  • Also, napping after 3pm may interfere with nighttime sleeping, and in my case, it has always been harder to resume the day after a late nap. I used to set an alarm for 1 hour, knowing I wouldn’t fall asleep right away. This usually worked out, that I wouldn’t be asleep for more than 30 minutes once I fell asleep. 
  • You also want a cool, comfy place, and a room you can darken for the ideal nap. 
  • Lastly, time to wake up slowly, before resuming daily activities. 

The health benefits of an occasional nap are immense and well worth pursuing. Here is a list of what I consider my top ten benefits of this timeless tradition. 

  1. If you’re falling short of the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep, a midday nap is the best way to make up for that. (Combat sleep deprivation)
  2. You won’t lose much time in your day. A 15-20 minute nap will take care of your needs and make you feel revived. 
  3. A nap is the best way to manage stress. Stress can cause heart disease, stroke, and erection problems. Napping will help your body in dealing with the anxiety that causes stress. 
  4. It’s heart healthy! Your blood vessels may become less flexible after just one night of bad sleep, which may contribute to heart disease. The good news is, they go back to normal after getting enough rest. 
  5. Sleeping less than 6 hours can lead to a higher chance of chronic diseases: diabetes, heart disease, etc. A daily nap can give you just enough to decrease these chances. 
  6. Your mind will be sharper in the afternoon, after a midday nap, making learning easier. 
  7. Indiscriminate sexual behavior is greatly decreased with better sleep. Sleep deprivation affects the frontal lobes which involve judgement and impulse control. It has been said that the combination of alcohol and sleep deprivation leads to people engaging in extramarital affairs during business travel. Take your naps while traveling. 
  8. Your mental health- lack of sleep jumbles up information stored in your brain, causing confusion. Therefore, leading to poorer mental health. 
  9. A nap can help prevent developing anxiety disorders. Sleep deprivation leads to more activity in the part of the brain associated with anxiety. 
  10. Dementia may be prevented. The brain cleans itself of plaque associated with alzheimers during sleep. Naps will help with this. 

This is a small sampling of a variety of benefits of taking a midday siesta. Shannon’s grandparents used to send her off to sleep at night, saying that she was going to Napper’s house. I enjoy popping into Napper’s house whenever possible, particularly in the middle of the day. 

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