Friday, July 3, 2015
8 Reasons Why Naps Are Good For You
I took a nap today. Not the kind where you accidentally fall asleep on the couch and wake up 45 minutes later, stiff in the neck and crusty in the temperament, unrested and more tired than you were when you started.
I planned this nap.
I took off my bra. It was pantsless. I went to bed. There may have been drooling, and there was absolutely dreaming. This nap was no accident, and it was glorious.
I recognize that even writing this may perpetuate the notion of the lazy freelance writer, but exactly the opposite. I had been up since six, meeting deadlines, working on my food blog, researching gluten-free bread, and editing seven blogs for submission. Then I walked the dogs, cleaned out the 'fridge, and did the dishes by hand. Right around one I went to bed with a book and let nature take its course.
I earned my nap. And even if I hadn't, guess what? Turns out, naps are actually good for you. Here are 8 reasons why.
1. Naps can counteract a bad night's sleep. Researchers found that even a 30-minute nap can mediate the stress hormones activated by a poor night of sleep.
2. Naps make you smarter. A brief nap after a lesson can help students retain the information they have just learned. Thousands of adolescents can definitely get behind this research.
3. Naps make you more alert. NASA studies prove this to be true, and who wants a sleepy astronaut?
4. Naps make you less of an asshole. Let's face it: when you're tired, you're cranky. A short nap can refresh you just enough to keep it together until cocktail hour, when you can allow alcohol to work its magic. There's no research for this. It's just true.
5. Naps are our biological imperative. Eight-five percent of mammals are polyphasic sleepers. This means that it is downright unnatural to sleep all at once. Nap like our other hairy animal friends (or Spaniards, who typically rise early, have a huge lunch, nap or rest for several hours in the afternoon, then stay up late).
6. Naps make you more creative. This may explain why so many of the artists in the American Visionary Art Museum's current exhibit are fond of naps, and also why Einstein favored an afternoon snooze. As a writer, I am merely recharging my creative batteries.
7. Naps increase productivity. Seriously. If they are good enough for Google, who invests in napping rooms and strange-looking pods that can be closed so you can ostensibly nap in the middle of a crowded room, then it's good enough for me.
8. Naps release stress. Even if you don't actually sleep, the simple act of escaping to rest relieves stress. Ask parents of toddlers; if you can get them into the bed, even without sleeping, that's a huge relief!
So maybe my nap was a little excessive today, but all you really need is 20-30 minutes. Drinking a cup of coffee before you nap can actually boost the positive effects of napping; called a "coffee nap," this is to the second decade of the 21st century what the power nap was to the 1980s. Sometimes a guided meditation or session of yoga nidra can help you to relax, even if you cannot actually sleep.
What say you? When is the last time you gave in to your baser urges and napped gloriously?