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Why You Should Make Napping a Normal Part of Your Day

Why You Should Make Napping a Normal Part of Your Day
January 26
14:55 2017

(HSIOnline) – Here’s something that can help get you through the day thinking clearer: Take a nap.

That’s right, a nap – forty winks, an afternoon snooze, a catnap – whatever you want to call it, you can profit from just “resting your eyes.”

A siesta in the afternoon has numerous health benefits — including some perks for your brain, as well. A new study from University of Pennsylvania researchers found that seniors who made it a habit to take an afternoon nap had better recall and thinking ability than those who didn’t.

But while enjoying a catnap might seem like the easiest thing you could possibly do, there are some tips about napping that can make it even better!

‘Clearing out the cobwebs’

The benefits of adults taking short naps has been known for quite a while, but it used to have a kind of stigma attached to it. A friend of mine was asked if she changed into her PJs when she revealed that she often took an afternoon snooze!

But then along came James Maas. He’s the social psychologist and past professor at Cornell University who coined the term “Power Nap,” which took napping out of the closet and into – well, nearly anyplace!

Maas, an expert on the topic of sleeping, believes that napping helps you think more creatively, improves recall and “generally clears out the cobwebs.”

And that’s exactly what this new study found.

The researchers compiled information on close to 3,000 seniors age 65 and older, around 60 percent of whom regularly took a nap after lunch that ranged from 30 to 90 minutes.

And they found that the nappers who slept for an hour in the afternoon did better on mental tests — such as solving math problems, recalling words and drawing objects — than those who slept less than an hour, over an hour or not at all.

So does that make 60 minutes the perfect nap time?

Maybe, maybe not.

Other experts in the field of sleep believe that how long you should nap depends on your unique circumstances –including, of course, how deprived of sleep you are to begin with.

For example:

  • Take 20: Twenty minutes is often called the true power nap. This length of time is said to help make you more alert upon awakening and increase your ability to learn and absorb things.
  • The Slow 60: When you nap for 30 to 60 minutes, you’ll enter a stage of sleep called “slow-wave sleep,” referring to the activity of your brain waves. This amount of an afternoon snooze is said to help your decision-making skills and be a good way to “process” memories.
  • REM sleep: After 60 to 90 minutes into a nap, you may go into REM, or rapid eye movement sleep. This is the kind of sleep where you’re more likely to have dreams as your brain will be very active. The longer you nap, however, the groggier you’ll probably be when you wake up.

Other ways a nap can benefit you is by helping to reduce heart-damaging stress, help you catch up on the shuteye you missed the night before, and even make you a safer driver!

One other thing: To get the most benefits from napping, try not to schedule it after 3 p.m. so it won’t interfere with falling asleep at night. Also, make sure the room is dark enough, or put on some light-blocking eye covers.

As James Maas put it, we need to think of sleep “as a necessity, not a luxury.”

“Hour-long nap may boost brain function in older adults” HealthDay, January 6, 2017,

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