If there is one thing everyone loves in this hectic society we’ve created for ourselves, it’s a nice nap. But like drinking coffee or a glass of wine, some people feel guilty indulging in an afternoon slumber. But the good news is that napping can actually have numerous positive effects on the mind and body – with one recent study suggesting that taking a nap can improve memory fivefold.
There has been a recognizable amount of research put into studying the link between the brain and sleep. Sleeping for sufficient amounts of time sleep has positive effects on one’s state of mind, and can help improve mood, critical thinking, creativity, and memory.
This more recent study observed brain activity in nappers compared to non nappers while putting their short term memory to the test. The researchers found that even those who had napped also had an increase in their ability to learn and retain new information compared to those who did not.
“Positive correlations were observed between spindle density during slow-wave-sleep and AM posttest performance as well as between spindle density during non-REM sleep and AM baseline performance, showing that successful learning and retrieval both before and after sleep relates to spindle density during nap sleep. Together, these results speak for a selective beneficial impact of naps on hippocampus-dependent memories.”
There’s a difference, though, between good and bad sleep. Most people nodding off in the daytime are doing so because they didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. For some, these types of naps are like a coping mechanism for their lack of adequate sleep, and often leave them feeling more groggy or fatigued because their body is trying to find longer and deeper rest that it has been deprived of.
In the right context, a nap can give you a refreshing effect and help you to get more done in your day. Remember to:
- Get comfortable. The most refreshing sleep is in a comfortable and relaxing setting. The perfect temperature for a good sleep is in a slightly cool room. Don’t fall asleep in a place where you can’t relax like work, school or in public (though most sleepyheads don’t do this on purpose).
- Make it short. A good nap should probably last less than an hour. As the body falls deeper into sleep it becomes harder to wake up without feeling groggy and fatigued.
- Make it a routine. Your body’s clock naturally follows patterns for when to wake up and when to sleep. Disrupting these patterns, however, can make it hard to get quality rest. If you make a routine of having a nap at a certain hour, your body will start to expect it and help you get to sleep at that time of day.