One of my favorite activities, as I’ve gotten older, is napping. It’s one of those things that I used to hate and fight against when I was younger but absolutely love now–like cauliflower. As many college and high school kids know, there is nothing quite like a nap in the middle of the day to make yourself feel better. So we’ve decided to dig a little deeper into napping. Here are 5 facts about napping that prove you should be taking more.
1. Napping has been part of human culture for centuries
Although cavemen likely didn’t take many naps due to the threats they faced from predators every day, the ancient Romans and Greeks definitely did. They took a nap each day during the hottest portion of the day, just after lunch. The word “siesta” actually refers to the custom. Its Latin roots are “sexta” and “hora”, which literally means sixth hour, the time of day when everyone took a nap.
2. A nap in the middle of the day can decrease your stress
Napping is a brief respite from the stressors of work, school, and daily life. So, it would make sense that taking a nap (even if it’s just for a few minutes) could decrease your stress levels. Taking a nap has also been proven to decrease your blood pressure.
3. Napping can improve your ability to remember things
While you sleep, your brain has the chance to clean up a bit and filter through all of the experiences you’ve had. The things that don’t matter quite as much are swept away and the important things are moved from your short-term to long-term memory. So, taking a nap after a long lecture or intense study session can actually help you to retain more information.
4. Napping can improve alertness
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has taken a nap. But even a 5-minute nap can improve how alert you feel. A study done by NASA proved this once and for all when they found that pilots who took a nap were 34% more alert than pilots who weren’t able to nap.
5. Napping can kick your caffeine boost up a notch
Grabbing a cup of coffee or an energy drink has become the common 2 o’clock snack everywhere from college classes to boardrooms. But did you know that napping can increase the effect of caffeine?
It’s true! Multiple studies have shown that drinking a cup of coffee and then taking a 20-minute nap can make you more alert. This is 100% due to your body’s chemistry. When you are tired, you’re actually feeling the effects of adenosine, a natural chemical in your body. Since it typically takes around 20-30 minutes for caffeine to hit you, a 20-30 minute nap will help to combat the effects of the adenosine naturally. With less adenosine in your system, there is less adenosine for the caffeine to counteract, which means that your caffeine buzz is all the more powerful.
I have a friend that will drink a cup of coffee quickly, and then immediately take a 20-minute nap. The effect is that she wakes up right as the caffeine is kicking in and can be hyper-productive. Not only does she benefit from the effects of caffeine, she feels more alert and rested from her nap.