Categories: Sleep Science

Can Napping Increase Your Happiness?

Nap lovers rejoice! According to a recent study conducted for the Edinburgh International Science Festival, people who nap for fewer than 30 minutes enjoy an improved sense of well-being.

Not to mention that if you do enjoy an occasional (or even daily) nap, you’re in outstanding company. Famous nappers you might know, or at least have heard of, include:

  • Winston Churchill
  • Albert Einstein
  • Ronal Reagan
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Margaret Thatcher

One caveat to the story is that the “happiness” benefits tend to be reserved for those who routinely indulge in short naps rather than those who take long naps. The study reveals that 66 percent of people who regularly nap for less than 30 minutes report feeling happy compared to only 56 percent of those who nap for lengthier amounts of time.

Long nappers, people napping more than 30 minutes on average, report feeling less happiness when compared to people who do not nap at all. So, keep that in mind when planning whether napping is the right move for you and how long you plan to sleep.

Benefits of Napping

The anecdotal benefits of napping have been well-documented over millennia (dating all the way back to Aristotle). It is only recently, though, that we’ve begun to study the scientific and psychological benefits napping represents for humans.

Whether you’ve had a sleepless night the night before, or simply need to recharge at some point during the day, short naps can be the secret to success and happiness in life. They can also be essential tools for building better health.

These are just a few of the benefits regular, short naps offer:

  • Recharge to power through your day
  • Improve your mood
  • Eliminate or reduce stress. This alone offers massive health benefits by improving heart health and decreasing the risk of heart disease.
  • Sharpen your memory, concentration, and your ability to focus on the task at hand
  • Boost your immune system
  • Increase your alertness
  • Quicken your reaction time

You should note, though, that excessive daytime napping is associated with a few potential health issues. This includes things like higher levels of C-reactive proteins which are consistent with systemic inflammation, known to cause a variety of health concerns, including:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Depression

Another concern, related to excessive daytime napping, is that it may interfere with your ability to sleep at night. The problem with that is that you might fail to achieve the deeper sleep through which the body repairs itself.

Types of Naps

There are essentially three distinct types of naps. Each one offers specific benefits, though getting into the habit of a regularly scheduled, short nap offers the best possible benefit. The three types are:

  1. Planned Napping – These naps are planned, usually in anticipation of a late evening ahead.
  2. Emergency Napping – Occur in response to excessive tiredness and for the purpose of helping you get through your activities for the day.
  3. Habitual Napping – While planned, these naps occur at roughly the same time every day.

Do’s and Don’ts of Napping

Now that you know more about the benefits of napping and the types of naps, let’s go over the do’s and don’ts of napping. There are a few things you can do to maximize your nap, and a few things you should avoid, so your nap has the best possible effect on your overall health and happiness.

Do’s of Napping

Do the following things to make your nap a powerhouse for you and your day.

  • Do keep it short. Short naps, lasting fewer than 30 minutes, provide the biggest boosts of happiness, productivity, energy, and creativity.
  • Do nap between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 pm for maximum effectiveness.
  • Do nap in a dark room on a comfortable and healthy mattress. This helps you fall asleep faster keeping your “break time” short and sweet.
  • Do drink a cup of coffee prior to napping. Known as a “caffeine nap”, the caffeine takes approximately 20 minutes to kick in so that you’ll be revved for productivity when you wake up.
  • Do give yourself a brief time to shake off the napping cobwebs before starting an activity after an afternoon siesta.

Dont’s of Napping

If maximum impact is your goal, you’ll certainly want to keep these things in mind while napping.

  • Don’t sleep too long. Sleeping more than 30 minutes allows you to enter into deeper states of sleep, and may leave you feeling groggy, slow, and fuzzy headed upon waking – not an optimal situation for boosted productivity.
  • Don’t sleep in the day to compensate for too little sleep at night. At least not routinely.
  • Don’t try to nap in a poor environment for napping. Get better results from your nap by finding a quiet, dark place at a comfortable temperature, to grab your 40 winks. It will help you fall asleep faster and get greater results from your nap.

When you follow the do’s and don’ts listed above, you will enjoy greater benefits from your nap. Napping can be your ultimate secret for success if you go about it the right way.

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    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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