Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison… plenty of the world’s most influential people were proud nappers—but are naps really that good for you? Nearly a third of all Americans report taking a nap every day, and doctors attest to the health benefits of a regular cat nap. So exactly how do naps improve your health and mental well-being? These are 5 of the benefits of napping regularly, and a few tips on how to make naps a regular part of your self-care routine.
Napping improves mental and physical performance.
A study by NASA showed that when sleepy pilots or astronauts took a 40-minute nap, their performance improved by 34% and their alertness by a whopping 100%. A short nap will help you function better and it won’t leave you groggy.
Napping has profound psychological benefits.
Think of your nap as a little vacation where you set aside the cares of the day and do something for yourself. Napping has psychological benefits and, just like getting regular quality sleep, napping is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety.
Napping reduces the chances of driving drowsy.
The CDC reported that, in 2013, drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths. If you’re driving and get drowsy, it’s recommended that you pull over—in a safe place—and take a 20-minute power nap to increase alertness and reaction time.
Napping earlier in the day is a perfect addition to your sleep routine.
Most doctors and sleep specialists will recommend napping earlier in the day to avoid negative effects on your regular sleep schedule. Many cultures treat lunchtime as the perfect slot for 40 winks—many Asian cultures have “nap rooms” in their offices while, in Spain and Italy, many restaurants and other service stations close for 2-hour periods with the assumption that customers are busy with their midday naps.
Sleep is greatly affected by the environment. If you think you’d benefit from napping, make sure you can darken the room and limit noise. If you’re especially sensitive to light, try using blackout drapes or shades and keep your napping on a schedule. Napping the same time every day will help your body adjust to releasing sleepy brain chemicals at the right time.