The habit of taking naps has changed in recent years. Although people in the Mediterranean have a long tradition of taking a daily ‘siesta,’ until recently it was considered lazy and perhaps childish for American adults to take a nap. Though this attitude is still widespread, napping has gained positive popularity recent years, thanks in part to cutting edge companies such as Google encouraging employees to nap, and even providing space and bedding for them to do so.

Sleep affects you in fascinating ways, so you should always make sure you get plenty of it.  It’s become clear that lack of sleep won’t do you any good, as it can cause various mental and physical problems in the long run. Despite this, American adults are the fourth most sleep deprived in the world according to research from insurance company Aviva. Napping can be a convenient way to catch up on that sleep debt if you do it right.

Benefits of taking a nap

  • Increased alertness: If tiredness is making you unproductive a nap could be the way to increase your alertness. A famous study conducted by NASA showed that pilots who napped in the cockpit for 26 minutes were 54% more alert.
  • Safety: If you drive for a living or work with heavy machinery then sleep deprivation is a matter of safety. If you are feeling tired these alertness benefits count even more to protect you and those around you.
  • Psychological benefits: Napping is a pleasurable and relaxing activity and so garners psychological benefits. If you are in the middle of a stressful day of work or study then a nap can be a way to break it up and recharge. Knowing the nap is coming could even make you work harder before relax time.

Things to keep in mind

  • Insomnia: If you have insomnia it may be unwise to nap too much. Overdoing it can upset your circadian rhythm which can make it harder to get to sleep at night. If you really need to nap, try to keep it no longer than about 20 minutes.
  • Grogginess: This varies from individual to individual but many people can feel groggy and down after a nap. Even if they recover later on, for some people this feeling is bad enough it puts them off napping in the first place. Some people try a great life hack to overcome this. Try having a cup of coffee before a 20 minute nap. Seems counter intuitive right? In actual fact, caffeine takes about that about of time to get into your system and the warm drink will relax you so you will have a great short nap and wake up just as the caffeine kicks in, killing the grogginess and making you alert to continue with your day.

The right way to nap really does depend on you. At the end of the day, decisions like this are best left to the individual, so get to know your body and do whatever is best for you.