We always joke about how sleep is a luxury that we can no longer afford now that we're adults with responsibilities. The truth of the matter, however, is that sleep is a necessity for our physical and mental health. Unfortunately, most people's schedules are so jam-packed with obligations and commitments that the only way they can fit everything into their day is by compromising on sleep. This is a huge mistake.
When you don't get enough sleep, your mind and body will inevitably suffer the consequences. There is a plethora of information in textbooks and on the Internet that will tell you again and again about the repercussions of sleep deprivation, and most of us are very well aware of them. So, instead of telling you what you already know, let's talk about something that most people should be doing on top of getting regular sleep: taking naps. That's right - the activity that is often associated with laziness is actually highly beneficial to you. Aside from how enjoyable they are, there are real mental and physical advantages to incorporating them into your regular routine.
1. Gives Your Brain A Performance Boost
A good night's sleep will ensure that your cognitive faculties all function optimally the next day - and it turns out that naps can help your brain take it one step further. A 60- to 90-minute nap will improve your mental performance for the rest of the day.
2. Improves The Condition Of Your Heart
Most of us don't get enough sleep on a regular basis. This can actually have a negative impact on our heart health, which can lead to heart-related health issues over time.
Napping regularly (i.e., three or more times a week) can mitigate this dire consequence and improve the condition of our heart.
3. Keeps Your Stress And Anxiety Levels In Check
Sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion can trigger stress and anxiety, which in turn can drain you even more. A nap during times of stress and anxiety can help reduce or even reverse those levels.
So, the next time you are feeling a bit on edge, try napping it off.
4. Helps Suppress Food Cravings
Have you noticed that when you're tired, you usually end up craving food? That's because when you are tired, your body requires energy to keep itself going. Next time when you're feeling a bit drained and feel the cravings surfacing, try taking a quick 10- to 15-minute nap - that's all the time you need to fight off a craving.
5. Elevates Physical Performance
What better way to optimize your physical performance than with a well-rested body? Studies have shown that athletes who incorporate naps into their regimen tend to perform better.
Now that you've seen how naps can improve various aspects of your life, you should really start getting into the habit of napping regularly. Here are some ways to ensure that you get the best nap possible:
1. Set An Alarm Clock
Nap times can vary from person to person, so it's important to find the perfect amount that will leave you recharged and refreshed when you wake up from one. Setting an alarm clock will ensure that you don't oversleep or miss any important commitments during your day.
2. Aim To Nap In The Afternoon
The time of day that you take a nap is quite important. Early afternoon - likely after you've had your lunch - is probably the best time to take a nap. It's hard to fall asleep before that, as it would be too close to the time you woke up. It's also not recommended to nap too late in the afternoon or early evening, as it could interfere with your nighttime rest.
3. Optimize Your Napping Environment
It is believed that cool and dim areas are the best environments for a good nap. Additionally, you should keep your head slightly elevated, with a propped pillow or on the arm of a couch.
4. Don't Forget Your Nap Aids
For every nap, you should have a device on which to set your alarm clock (if you're using your phone, try setting it to airplane mode so that incoming calls and messages don't disrupt your nap). If you plan to only take a quick power nap, then drink a cup of caffeinated tea or coffee before you lie down. Caffeine takes about 15 to 20 minutes to kick in, so when you wake up from your nap, you will feel doubly recharged.
5. Get Sufficient Sleep At Night
While naps are fantastic for your mental and physical health, you shouldn't rely on them to make up for your sleep deprivation during the night. Instead of using naps to minimize the harm of not getting enough regular sleep, you should incorporate them into a healthy sleep routine for optimal health and performance.
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