Napping can improve memory, mood and alertness—among other things.
- Posted on Jul 9, 2019
I love everything about Spain: the food, people, history and the gorgeous landscapes. But I’m completely captivated by the daily siesta.
Surely, life would be so much better if the U.S. followed the lead of many Mediterranean countries and shut down for an hour or so in the early afternoon, so everyone could rest. Alas, that is not likely to happen, but you can still savor a summer nap on your own time.
Numerous studies tout the many benefits of even a mere 15-20 minute nap, including improving memory, mood, productivity and cognitive functioning. A 2015 study at the Universite Paris Descartes-Sorbonne found that napping can even boost immune function.
The longer days, frequent vacations and heat-induced lethargy, make summer the prime napping season.
So whether you want to curl up in the air conditioning, swing in a hammock, or let the lapping ocean waves lull you to sleep, here is how to make the most of your summertime snooze.
Between 2 to 3 p.m. tends to be the sweet spot for napping, according to the Mayo Clinic. Not only can you beat the worst heat of the day, but an hour or two after lunch, your blood sugar and energy starts to dip. This time also works with your body’s circadian rhythms: nap too late and you may interrupt your nighttime sleep pattern; do it earlier and your body may not be ready for more sleep.
James B. Maas, Ph.D, the co-author of The Art of Napping, coined the now-popular term “power nap.” He says that a nap of 20-30 minutes is ideal. It takes 90 minutes to complete a sleep cycle and a 60-minute nap might interrupt deep sleep, causing grogginess and inertia after you wake up.
Some people associate napping with laziness or a lack of ambition; others believe napping is only for children. Tell them that Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt are just a few famous high-achievers who napped. Case closed.
If you do want to nap at the beach, make sure you apply adequate amounts of sunscreen before dozing. According to the CDC, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage your skin in as little as 10-15 minutes. A hat with a brim and sunglasses will also protect your scalp and eyes.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, taking a quick walk and snacking on some protein or fruit are ideal ways to get yourself going again after your snooze.