Take a Nap: The Benefits of Napping and How to Make It Work for You

Woman napping with dog

Getting healthy sleep is one of Life’s Essential 8 — key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health, as defined by the American Heart Association. Better cardiovascular health helps lower the risk for heart disease, stroke and other major health problems.

Let’s see how naps fit in.

Do you take naps? Maybe you should! A good nap can get you out of that afternoon slump, recharge your energy, and leave you more alert and in a better mood. But when, where and how long? Get the secrets to a successful power nap.

Now, here’s a quick quiz.

  • Do you get less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night?
  • After lunch, do you start to feel cranky and irritable?
  • Are you bright and alert in the morning, but find it hard to concentrate by the afternoon?
  • Do you need another cup of coffee or a sugary energy drink just to make it to dinner?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, this oldie-but-goodie might be for you: napping. That’s right, naps aren’t just for kids anymore. Research has shown that, even among adults, naps provide many benefits to help you make it through the day.

Benefits of napping

Increased alertness:: It’ll be easier to pay attention during your staff meeting — or while driving your forklift — if you can avoid nodding off or spacing out.

Attitude adjustment: After a nap, you’ll be less impulsive and better able to deal with frustration — in other words, you’ll be in a better mood. Napping kills the crankiness.

Improved memory: When your computer crashes, you lose data. But when you crash on the couch for a while, it actually helps your memory. A nap can make it easier to recall facts learned earlier that day.

A creative mindset: You need sleep to learn new skills and to be creative (that’s when your brain can finally process the info you’ve stuffed into it). The good news is that a long nap can be similar to a night’s sleep to get you inspired.

Cash saver: You probably know that energy drinks and too much coffee aren’t good for you and aren’t as good for your brain as a nap, but have you calculated how much money you’d save by replacing costly trips to the cafe with free naps?

How to nap smart

Maybe you’ve decided that napping sounds like a plan. If you’re going to give napping a try, do it right. It’s not as simple as nodding off any time you feel an inkling to yawn.

When: Mid-afternoon is best (around 3 p.m.). Don’t nap too late in the day, or you’ll be wide awake at night and spoil your bedtime routine.

Where: Find a cool, quiet place to doze. Maybe your car during a break, if you don’t want the boss to catch you snoozing. (That said, many companies are starting to wise up by letting employees lie down for a break.)

How long: You don’t want to wake up in the middle of deep sleep or you’ll be even groggier than when you started. For a short nap, keep it to 20 minutes, no longer than 30.

Note: If you still plan on supplementing your nap with a cup of coffee, drink it before you nod off. It takes time for caffeine to activate, and it is likely to kick in right as you wake up from a short snooze.

Plan your nap now

Want to super-charge your afternoon? Plan your snooze in advance and it’ll be a lot smoother. 

  1. Pick a time today, tomorrow or later this week when you could use a recharge.
  2. Now, determine where you’ll nap: in your car, at your desk or a comfy spot at home.
  3. Finally, put it on your calendar.

Now relax, and get those bonus Zs, so you can be Healthy For Good!