For those with busy lifestyles and strong work ethics, the thought of taking some time out in the afternoon to have a short nap might seem completely outrageous. We tend to think that afternoon naps are something that are only needed by toddlers and infants, but there are some benefits of an afternoon nap that could be good for adults too.
Taking an afternoon nap seems to rail against the modern Western work culture which requires us to be on the go 100% of the time we are at work. However, a Harvard University study has shown that a short nap can restore the energy levels that are found first thing in the morning. So is it time we reconsidered our opinions of an afternoon nap?
What a Nap Isn’t
An afternoon nap isn’t a 3 hour Siesta, which was traditionally taken by workers in extremely hot climates. A nap isn’t a deep sleep, but rather a very short, light sleep that helps top up levels of alertness and helps improve our mood.
Taking a nap is not a sign of weakness or an excuse to shirk off work. An afternoon nap is actually a rather sensible way of restoring early morning levels of alertness.
When a Nap May be Beneficial
Expecting a Longer Day?
If you are aware that you have a day that is outside of your normal routine, particularly if your regular bedtime is going to be delayed until later than normal, it might be worth considering an afternoon nap. A short nap in the afternoon can restore alertness levels and help you to re-energise.
Travelling, in particular driving, can be a stressful and tiring experience. When we become confident drivers we tend forget just how intense a level of concentration is required to drive safely. Maintaining these levels of concentration can rapidly bring on bouts of fatigue. Stopping at a service station and taking a short nap can be highly beneficial when you have been driving for 3 or more hours.
After you have had your afternoon nap, make sure you get out of the car and stretch your legs for a minute or two before setting off on your journey again. This will ensure that you’ve fully woken up and are ready for the road.
When You Need a Performance Boost
When you’re aware of an activity that will require you to be fully alert and on top of your game it may be a good idea to plan a nap into your day. Having a smartphone means that we always have an alarm clock on hand. Make sure you set your alarm and allow enough time to freshen up again after the nap to achieve full alertness.
What’s the Ideal Nap Length?
The ideal length of time for a nap should be between 20 and 30 minutes, anything longer than this can see you heading into a deep sleep, which may impact on your ability to sleep properly at night. Remember that even after a short period of sleep it will take a few extra minutes to get back to full levels of alertness.
Should I Nap Everyday?
In short yes, there are benefits to our circadian rhythms that come from taking a regular afternoon nap. However, regular napping may not be practical or possible in a modern working lifestyle, so for many people the opportunity to take a nap only arises in exceptional circumstances.
Enjoy your nap and the benefits that come from it.
This guide to napping was brought to you in association with SleepyPeople.com a leading online retailer of quality bedding and THE place for a great night’s sleep.