Many of us are affected by the afternoon slump, with a drop in energy levels and feelings of sluggishness building midway through the afternoon. As we age, it becomes increasingly more difficult to battle the need to rest and recuperate, with plenty of us making time to rest our weary eyes with a short midday nap.
However, as tempting as it is to get some additional sleep in the afternoon, there’s a lot of debate on whether napping is good or bad for your everyday health. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons associated with napping, as well as how to make sure you’re napping the right way.
Benefits associated with napping
There are a number of advantages to be had from a quick nap, so long as you’re getting your napping right.
Stay alert and focused
Firstly, you’re more likely to feel more focused and productive with a nap midway through your day. As tiredness and fatigue kicks in, we’re likely to make more mistakes, however a short nap can help to increase your alertness in time to tackle your to-do list for the rest of the day.
So whether you’re tackling some home improvements or heading out on a long drive, for example, it’s worthwhile taking a nap beforehand or in the midway through, to make sure your mind if prepared for the task ahead.
Maintain your memory
A quality nap can also help towards keeping your memory in tip top condition. This is especially beneficial for older adults, as we are more likely to experience problems with our memory over time and as we age.
Keep your blood pressure in check
There’s also more physical benefits associated with napping, including lower blood pressure. A study by the Telegraph found that older men and women who took a midday nap every day, had a significantly lower blood pressure than those who didn’t nap on a regular basis. Forget an apple a day keeping the doctor away and make room for naps instead!
An aid through stressful situations
If you’re going through a tough time and stress is getting the better of you, a daily nap can help to relax your mind and relieve the stresses and strains of everyday life. Even if you’re not a regular napper, you’ll find that introducing a short nap during stressful times to be extremely helpful.
Possible problems that stem from napping
Of course, there’s the other side of the argument that napping can bring about problems with your health and lifestyle.
Lower quality sleep for some
Napping doesn’t provide benefits for everyone and instead, some may find it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep when they have napped during the day. This can then worsen the groggy feeling that comes about in the early afternoon.
If your body reacts negatively to napping, it could be due to napping for too long or from choosing the wrong time of day to nap, amongst other things.
Potential for respiratory problems
A research study has suggested that napping can increase the chances of developing breathing problems such as pneumonia or bronchitis. This is because napping can increase inflammation, a symptom often associated with these illnesses.
Respiratory problems from napping is a very rare occurrence but can affect some more susceptible individuals, including the elderly.
A link between napping and diabetes
There’s also evidence to suggest that napping and diabetes are sometimes linked. However, there’s an uncertainty as to which one causes the other. It’s recommended that if you feel the need to sleep during the day, you should speak to your doctor who may be able to diagnose the reasons behind your fatigue.
Top tips for making the most of your nap
A number of problems caused by napping can be eradicated by taking a nap at the best time, in the best environments.
- Choose the right amount of time to nap for. If you’re looking for an energy boost, opt for 15-30 minutes, whereas if you’re feeling particularly fatigued, nap for 30-60 minutes. If you struggle to wake up feeling refreshed, you should increase your nap time to 60-90 minutes to allow the full sleep cycle to pass.
- The best time for a nap is between 1pm and 3pm. This is soon enough after lunch to tackle the food fatigue, whilst giving you enough time to burn energy that’s needed for a good night’s sleep. Aim for around 6 hours after waking up to fit in a power nap.
- For a quality nap, give yourself a dark, quiet room that’s free from anything that could distract you from your slumber. Take an alarm with you, to make sure you don’t over-nap, otherwise you could end up feeling more sleepy than you did beforehand.
With the right considerations for your daily nap, you should be able to reap the benefits of a quick snooze, without having to worry about any of the problems sometimes associated with napping.