Afternoon naps can improve cognitive performance, research shows

2023-05-31 22:16:32
Afternoon naps can improve cognitive performance, research shows

For most people, napping in the early afternoon when your body experiences a natural circadian dip, is the best way to catch a few winks without disturbing the sleep-wake cycle.

There is no consensus on how long you should nap. Some experts recommend naps should last no more than 30 minutes. The limit is 60 minutes, because longer naps have been linked to a higher risk of health problems like cardiovascular disease.

Try to schedule your naps and not wait until you get sleepy, which will prevent you from napping too late in the day. Keep your napping space dark, cool, and free from distractions. (But there is nothing wrong with the standard couch nap if that's most comfortable.)

Remember to give yourself 10 minutes after napping before engaging in mentally or physically demanding tasks.

There is still some stigma about naps at work in some countries because of the lingering notions of decreased productivity and even laziness. But there is solid evidence that an afternoon nap can improve a worker's cognitive performance, especially for complex tasks, and may stimulate creativity.

When NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration studied the effects of napping on pilots, they found that naps improved mental alertness and performance. Many night shift workers reportedly perked up after taking naps as brief as 15 to 20 minutes.

So, enjoy your nap. Even if you return to work, maintaining an afternoon nap as part of your daily routine can be beneficial.

Source: Harvard Health Publishing


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