Whether you’re sleep deprived or just need a way to relax a nap might be the best way to get yourself back into the fold. However, napping at the wrong time or for too long can back-fire. Understand how to get the best out of your nap.

What are the drawbacks of napping?

Napping isn’t for everyone, some people struggle falling asleep when it’s not night and some may have a hard time sleeping outside their own bed. You may also experience some negative side effects such as;

Sleep inertia. You might feel groggy and disoriented after waking up from a nap.

Nighttime sleep problems. Short naps generally don’t affect nighttime sleep quality for most people. But if you experience insomnia or poor sleep quality at night, napping might worsen these problems. Long or frequent naps might interfere with nighttime sleep.

However there is a way to avoid these drawbacks. Keep your naps short, aim to nap for 20-30 minutes, the longer you nap the more likely you are to feel groggy afterwards.

Take naps in the early afternoon preferably before 3, napping after can interfere with nighttime sleep.

Now that you know the best way to employ naps and what not to do, here are some benefits to a little shut eye.

1. Napping May Boost Your Immune System

Sleep deprivation—particularly repeated, chronic lack of sleep—takes a toll on your neuroendocrine and immune functions by increasing inflammatory molecules known as cytokines, as well as stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. A 2015 study took 11 healthy young men and restricted them to a night of only two hours of sleep. Blood and urine tests measured higher cytokines and levels of norepinephrine in both groups after sleep deprivation. The following day, one group was given two half-hour naps, while the control group did not have any naps. Blood and urine samples of those who napped showed that their cytokines and norepinephrine levels had returned to normal, as though they had never lost a night of sleep.

2. A Nap May Increase Your Alertness During Night

Here’s taking one of the disadvantages we already know from napping too long and using it to our advantage. For people who work at night, or through the night, several studies have shown that naps from between 30 minutes and four hours long that are taken in advance of the shift—what’s known as a “prophylactic nap”—improves performance and alertness.

3. Naps Can Help you Learn Learn Skills

Taking frequent naps can aid you learn new skills. A 2006 study broke participants into two groups: those who napped frequently and those who napped sporadically. Each group was given a nap before a reading task. Habitual nappers—people who reported napping frequently—did better on the reading and retention task. Researchers determined that the brains of habitual nappers consolidated motor learning better, which is part of the process of learning a new skill.

4. Naps May Increase Cognitive Retention

One of the many functions of regular nighttime sleep is to consolidate memory. A 2010 study set out to see whether daytime naps also improve memory processes, particularly associative memory (the ability to make connections between unrelated objects). Thirty-one healthy participants were given a learning task at 12 p.m. to memorize two sets of face-object photograph pairs. The objects in each pair occurred in both sets but were paired with different faces. Participants were broken into two groups: those who had a 90-minute daytime nap or those who did not. At 4:30 p.m., participants who napped showed notably better retention of associative memory.

5. Napping Can Increase Physical Stamina.

Napping can have a positive impact on physical stamina and performance as well. A 2007 study put 10 healthy men through a series of sprints before and after a 30-minute, post-lunch nap. Sprint times improved after the naps, suggesting to the researchers that a post-lunch nap “improves alertness and aspects of mental and physical performance following partial sleep loss.” Napping may be an important part of an athletes routine who are undergoing restricted sleep during training or competitions

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