Grabbing some shut-eye is beneficial both physically and mentally.
Whether you’re having a catnap, power nap, micro nap, ultra nap or metro nap, not many would view a slumped body at the table as a perky, productive co-worker. The perception is that you’re either sick or lazy. Yet there is an abundance of research findings that say grabbing some shut-eye is beneficial both physically and mentally.
A catnap or siesta typically takes anywhere from 10-30 minutes and is traditionally more popular in Spain, Greece and Asia where the climate is warm and the mid-day meal a tad heavy. Any longer than 30 minutes and you will wake up cranky and sluggish for the rest of the day.
Physical benefits aplenty
Less stress makes a happy heart. A 2007 study revealed that the catnappers among us were 40 percent less likely to develop heart disease. They believe that napping lowers the level of stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenalin, helping the body handle glucose better.
Grabbing a few minutes of shut-eye also helps reduce carelessness, boost motor skills, improve learning and memory (great for your kids during examination time), decision-making, mood and alertness (great for you while at the office).
Sara Mednick, Ph.D., a sleep medicine researcher at the University of California and author of ‘Take a Nap! Change Your Life’ claims napping before 4:00 p.m. helps reduce your chances of gaining weight and replenishes your energy so you feel more up to having sex after dinner than you do now. It also won’t affect your nighttime sleep.
In fact word of the benefits of taking a catnap has caught on so much so that companies like Nike actually have ‘quiet rooms’ where staff are encouraged to take a short nap or meditate. There is also an emerging trend in foreign countries where catnapping pods and snoozing suites are available not only at the office but at universities and shopping malls too.
You’re in good company
Did you know that some of the world’s most intelligent politicians, scientists and artists were also habitual catnappers? Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Leonardo Da Vinci and Salvador Dali all catnapped and woke up to make big impressions on the world. So you’re not alone and you’re certainly not lazy.
Do it right
So you’re sold on the benefits of a catnap. Now make sure you nap right so it does not have a counter-affect on you. What time is best? 1 pm to 3 pm when your body releases a high level of melatonin. The only other peak is at night when you sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that helps relax your body and prepare it for sleep.
If you’re an ‘early-to-bed, early-to-rise’ kind of person, a catnap is best around 1 pm. If you usually knock off after midnight, then napping around 2.30 pm is ideal.
A word of caution – don’t nap too late in the day or you will have trouble sleeping at night. The last thing you want is to be tossing and turning for hours only to wake up the next morning tired, un-rested and irritable.
Besides the many benefits of catnapping, studies conducted by the University of Birmingham and a Guanzhou Hospital in China show that those who snooze during the day may have a slight risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Among the possible factors were disrupted nighttime sleep and a link between napping and reduced physical activity. A good way around this would be to catnap in moderation… maybe not every day, but on those odd days when you feel especially worn-out or too stressed.