Napping is not just for babies. Studies show that the afternoon nap is great for adults as well. There’s no need to feel lazy to sleep in the daytime. A short mid-afternoon sleep can relieve stress, improve job performance, lift your mood, make you extra alert, and ease stress. Studies have shown that sleep plays an important role in the storage of memories. A nap can help you remember the things you learned earlier in the day as much as a full night’s sleep. Napping tries to maintain you from forgetting things like motor skills, sensory perception, and verbal recollection. If you feel yourself down, try taking a nap to lift your spirits. Napping, or even just resting for an hour without falling asleep, can brighten up your outlook. Experts say that stress relief that comes from falling asleep and resting is a mood booster, whether you fall asleep or not.
Benefits of Napping
Afternoon nap provides various health benefits to an adult:
- Helps in reducing fatigue
- Increased alertness
- Improved mood
- Improved performance
Drawbacks of Napping
Napping isn’t for all of us. Some people simply can’t sleep during the day or have trouble sleeping in places other than their own beds, which they sometimes need to nap. Napping may also have negative effects, such as:
Sleep Inertia: After waking up from a nap, you might feel groggy and disoriented.
Nighttime sleep problem: Short naps generally do not affect the quality of sleep during the night for most people. But if you have insomnia or poor sleep quality at night, napping may make these problems worse. Long or frequent naps may interfere with sleep during the night
How long should an afternoon nap be?
The amount of time you spend to nap depends on the time you have available, how you want the nap to work for you, and your plans for the night to come. Generally speaking, the longer your nap is, the longer you will feel rejuvenated after you wake up. A long nap of one to two hours in the afternoon will mean that you’re less sleep that night.
If you’re planning to stay up later than usual, or if you don’t mind taking a little longer to sleep at bedtime, take your nap for about 1.5 hours. This is the length of a normal sleeping cycle. You’ll experience deep sleep for about an hour or so, followed by light sleep for the last half an hour.
Another possibility is to have a brief “power” nap. Brief naps of 10-15 minutes can significantly improve alertness, cognitive performance, and mood almost immediately after waking up. The benefits usually last for a couple of hours. A power nap is great because you’re not going to experience any sluggish or drowsy feelings after you wake up. That’s because you’re not going to get any deep sleep in this short time.
Types of Nap
Sleep deprivation can make you feel tired the next day. If you’re up late or you’ve stopped sleeping one night, you might want to take a recovery nap the next day to compensate for the loss of sleep.
This type of nap is used to prepare for sleep loss. For example, night shift workers may plan a nap before and during their shifts to preventing sleepiness and remain alert while at work.
Appetitive naps are taken to enjoy the nap. Napping can be relaxing and can improve your mood and energy levels when you wake up.
Children need more sleep than adults do. Filling naps are often scheduled for infants and toddlers and can occur spontaneously in children of all ages.
You have a greater need for sleep when you’re sick. This is because your immune system is mounting a response to fight infection or promote healing, and this requires extra energy. Naps taken during illness are considered to be essential.
Effects of Napping by Age
Children need more sleep than adults, while younger children need more sleep than older children. As a result, the role of napping is changing as we age.
Napping in Children
Taking nap can help children get enough sleep. Sleep is important for the physical, intellectual, and emotional development of a child. Researchers studied naps in children from childhood to adolescence:
Infant (Up to 1-year-old): It’s normal for infants to spend most of their time sleeping. They may take one to four nap 14 per day, which may last between 30 minutes and two hours. Research shows that taking an extended nap after learning helps to strengthen memory in infants.
Toddlers (1-2 years old): Napping begins to decrease after one year of age, but a nap is still important at this age and still produces benefits. One study found that infants who nap had an increased ability to self-regulate their behavior and emotions compared to infants who did not.
Children (3-5 years old): Toddlers need 10 to 13 hours of sleep every day at this age. Some children will start sleeping continuously throughout the night, while others will sleep during the night, but they will still need to nap during the day.
Children (6-12 years old): After the age of 5 some people might stop napping
Napping in Adults
Many of the positive effects seen in nap children are also found in young adults. Napping early in adulthood can reduce sleepiness and improve cognitive performance and regulation of emotions. However, a midday nap is not an option for everyone. Employment and other obligations may make napping impossible. Also, some people just have a hard time falling asleep during the day or away from the comfort zone of the home.
Short and Early Naps are Best
If you take a nap in the afternoon, it’s a bit like hitting a timer that controls your ability to get back to sleep. A short nap, typically 15 to 20 minutes, will affect you less than a nap that lasts for hours.6 In addition, a nap in the early afternoon may allow you 10 hours to build up your desire to sleep again. However, a nap in the hours preceding bedtime may make it more difficult to sleep at the night time.
In addition, if you need eight hours of sleep to feel rested and you sleep for two hours in the afternoon or evening, you may get less sleep overnight because your body may not need additional sleep. Your sleep will become more fragmented, with more frequent awakenings and long periods of waking up in the night.
Studies have shown that afternoon naps are good for adults as they help in improving the health benefit. A short nap in the afternoon will help in boosting memory and improve our job performance.