Let’s face it — from time to time we all find ourselves a little tired and struggling to make it through the day without roughly a dozen triple-shot lattes. You’re eyeing off the coffee machine as you read this right now, aren’t you?
Well pep up, friends, because we have some very welcome news for you: naps are actually beneficial in a number of ways. For starters, a study presented to the European Society of Cardiology annual conference last month found midday naps are associated with reduced blood pressure and could decrease risk of heart attacks.
Researchers analysed how naps impacted on the blood pressure levels of 386 subjects with hypertension. Those who took a midday snooze had a daily blood pressure reading five per cent lower than those who didn’t — and hour-long naps seemed to have the most benefit. Napping was also linked to less damage to the arteries and heart, and an “enhanced fall” of blood pressure levels at night.
Those aren't the only benefits, either. Some studies have found a daytime trip to SnoozeVille is more effective than caffeine in improving motor skill performance and memory.
To some people the thought of napping during the day might sound ludicrous, but it turns out they're in the minority; reports suggest up to two-thirds of people worldwide take regular naps. If you remain unconvinced, here are five more napping benefits that might get you over the line (and into the nearest bed):
1. It helps you keep your cool.
It's thought napping reduces impulsive decision-making and short-temperedness. In one study, a group of 40 volunteers were told to complete an impossible task, and researchers observed a considerable difference in the frustration levels between those who took an hour-long nap and the non-napping group. Further, those who took a nap were more likely to persist at the task before giving up.
2. It boosts your brain performance and productivity.
Another study has found just 10 minutes of snooze time immediately improves your cognitive performance for up to three whole hours. A quick nap is also shown to reduce feelings of sleepiness and fatigue, ultimately increasing overall productivity. Surely your boss won't have an issue with that... will they? (Post continues after gallery.)
3. It improves your long-term memory.
Struggle to remember your Mum's birthday? Forgotten your old-friend's home address? Some studies suggest your waning long-term memory might be rebooted by regular napping. A nap as short as six minutes is thought to promote declarative memory and increase retention of previously required material. So get to bed, pronto.
4. It reduces stress.
Researchers have observed blood pressure is lowered immediately following a nap. The reason for this is two-fold: regular napping has been shown to not only reduce stress-levels, but to help our cardiovascular system, also. Getting up to 45 minutes of sleep during the day has been linked with accelerated cardiovascular recovery and lowered levels of psychological stress. (Post continues after video.)
5. It prevents obesity and weight gain.
There's a growing body of research which suggests regular napping protects against obesity. The British Journal of Nutrition published a letter in 2012 stating sedentary time on the couch is better spent napping, as opposed to watching television. This recommendation is thought to be based on sleep's positive impact on energy balance and weight maintenance.
Do you nap regularly? Have you experienced health benefits from napping?
To help you catch those much needed Zs, here are some dreamy songs to get you in the napping mood: