If you need an excuse to take a daily afternoon rest, there are plenty of studies that will come to your aid.
My favorite part of the day is about to roll around. It’s the hour right after lunch. It breaks the day in two, and gives me a moment to pause, reevaluate, and recharge. If you guessed I have a child and that’s the golden hour of nap time, you’d be right, although now my son no longer actually sleeps at nap time. Instead, he sets up elaborate games that he gently narrates in his room. But, he stays there for an hour, and that’s the key.
These days, I often use quiet time for two things: prayer and a nap of my own. I like that system, and I love that I’m able to schedule my day so that for this one hour I have the ability to do those two things. I didn’t know until recently, however, just how many studies have shown that naps make you a better person. Yes, napping every day could make you a happier and healthier person for these reasons:
1Taking a nap improves memory.
In this study, participants were asked to remember a certain set of words and word pairs. After the time allotted to memorize them, one group was told to take a nap, and the other was told to watch a DVD. Then, both groups were asked to recall the words. The group who took a nap was able to remember the words and word sets five times better than the other group.
2Taking a nap helps your body recover from bad sleep.
This study shows how a 30-minute nap makes your body less stressed. Poor sleep messes with your immune system and increases your stress levels. But in the study, the participants who took a nap for just half an hour the day after a bad night’s sleep had their hormone levels checked and they had no negative changes from the previous day. The participants who did not nap all had significant negative hormonal changes.
3Taking a nap helps you lose or maintain weight.
If you are sleep-deprived, you tend to be more hungry and more stressed. And being hungry and stressed leads you to eat more, and to eat whatever is easiest to grab — be that food that is good for you or not. So, a chance to catch your second wind with a nap will help you make better decisions that aren’t just based on your exhaustion and hangry-ness.
4Taking a nap just makes you feel better.
It’s like the reset you get when you go to bed frustrated and wake up happy. With a nap, you just get that reset right away instead of having to wait until night time. Sure, there are the few minutes when you wake up from a nap and are groggy and disoriented. But if you can get past those few minutes, then the world is a whole new place. My post-nap ritual involves grabbing a glass of iced tea to greet the afternoon (this is a very recent switch from the mug of hot tea I had been drinking every afternoon all winter). And sure enough, after some tea, I’m wide awake and ready for anything the rest of the day has to throw at me.
If a nap can make you less grumpy and less stressed, increase your memory, and help restore some hormonal balance after a bad night’s sleep, what are you waiting for? Your friends, family, kids, employer, roommate, and neighbors will all appreciate a more balanced and more loving you. And that afternoon recharge might be just what you need for your day’s sanity as well!
Did St. Benedict invent nap time?
A prayer for the busy stay-at-home mom