By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
It’s naptime. Literally, I am writing this as Lucy is napping because, as all parents of toddlers or former toddlers know, this is my 2 or 3 hour window to get all the things done before I have a fully recharged almost 2 year old tornado back in motion. That’s how I imagine napping for kids, that they have a cell phone battery recharging bar climbing back to 100% as they sleep. Every so often, I will indulge myself in an afternoon nap instead of working my butt off cramming a day's worth of chores into a 2 hours slot. Because, wow, am I rested after that. And, if you didn’t catch it, there was a hefty dose of sarcasm in that indulge comment.
DreamChaser, it’s Mental Health Monday, and we are debunking the myth that naps are an indulgence or being lazy or a waste of time or any other excuse you have for skipping them. You know I love science, studies, and all things that go along with that. All signs point that naps, when done properly, have some awesome health and wellness benefits. It’s time to shift our mindset from naps being an indulgence to naps being a must!
Here are the top 5 health benefits from napping for adults.
Bring the happy factor back
Studies have shown that napping or just resting for up to an hour is a mood booster and can brighten your outlook.
Give the ole memory a boost
Did you know that sleep is important for storing memories? Naps can help you remember things and make connections between different thoughts from earlier in the day as well as keep you from forgetting motor skills, sense perception, and verbal skills. Get this! The benefits from napping can be the same as a full night’s sleep!
Ease your stress
Naps can help your body recover after a stressful situation by bringing down your blood pressure as you relax into your ZZZs. This will help bring down the levels of your stress hormones, like cortisone, in your body. As a benefit, reducing the stress helps boost your immune system.
Repeating the same task or actions throughout the day causes a decrease in performance. A nap can boost your consistency. Longer naps, like 70 to 90 minutes, that achieve REM sleep can boost creativity by activating the dream and image parts of the brain. This can help you combine ideas in new ways to come up with solutions to problems. Your performance is boosted further with quicker reaction time associated with increased alertness and better memory.
Feel sleepy after lunch? You are not alone! As the day goes on, your alertness fades. Napping can increase alertness. Studies have shown that naps are better than caffeine in this area with the added benefits of increasing memory and learning, too!
The list of nap benefits goes on and on, DreamChaser, these just happen to be my personal favorites. Another way to use napping to your benefit is when you know you are about to experience a night time sleep deficit, like when working a night shift or with travel; napping prior to the deficit will help you get through this period. These benefits come along with occasional napping but daily napping has shown the added benefit of enhancing your ability to tell the difference between images and textures.
Before you go snuggle up and nap it out, there are a few things to keep in mind to maximize these benefits. Keep your naps to 10 to 20 minutes, 30 minutes tops. Otherwise, you might experience a phenomenon called sleep inertia, which is where you actually wake up feeling more tired or groggy. Let’s be real, if you are planning to incorporate this into your daily schedule, finding a longer time slot might be a challenge anyway; so, it’s great that the benefits come from shorter and not longer, right? Plan your naps for early afternoon before 3 PM, otherwise, you might have issues with night time sleep. Finally, try to find a restful environment to get your most out of your nap.
Anyway you look at it, napping is good for your overall health and wellness. Abandon the notion that it is an indulgence to get your nap on, DreamChaser. One of the keys to living your best life is to listen to your body, mind, and soul. If you are tired or stressed or grumpy, a 10 minute nap reset might be the solution to getting yourself back on track. Just one more tool for your best life toolbox!
Forgive me, my pillow is calling...all this discussion of napping has me feeling very sleepy indeed. I encourage you to join me in recharging the batteries!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.