How do you improve your overall health for free? Take a nap

April 7, 2017 Providence Health Team

Without proper rest, it’s hard to expect your body, mind, work and relationships to prosper.

Whether you are a hard-working employee, stressed-out student, or a busy parent the answer to being tired may be only 20 minutes of slumber away.

While some may disapprove of daytime naps, as it turns out, naps are good for you. Experts from the American Heart Association and say a 20-minute nap each day may be the missing link to many common health problems such as low energy, high stress, mood disorders, food cravings and cardiovascular concerns.

Here are 5 ways naps improve your health

  1. They increase your energy
    Do you ever wake up feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and ready for the day, only to have that energy dwindle and fade by the afternoon? Or maybe you’re tired from the moment your alarm blares until the moment you get that third cup of coffee? Perhaps coffee doesn’t even work for you, and you’re tired all day long.

    Take a nap.

    According to the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation, a 20-minute “power nap” can be the best option for rejuvenation. Before you reach for that energy drink or cancel your plans for the evening, take a quick nap and regain the pep you need to dive back into your day.

    If your first experiment with napping doesn’t immediately seem to boost your stamina, stick with it. Try napping for 20 minutes a day for at least two weeks straight, and see if your energy levels improve.
  2. They reduce stress
    According to a survey of 2,009 employees conducted by the American Heart Association, 28 percent of employees report a need for more sleep. Taking a 20-minute nap during your day can give you the boost needed to get you to 5 o’clock.

    During the day, less than 30 minutes of sleep is enough time for your brain to be stimulated to remember what it has studied, relieving stress for professionals and students. Taking a quick snooze between classes or meetings can improve your retention of information, reduce anxiety and help you focus for longer periods.

    Consider taking your lunch break to head home for a quick snooze, nap in your car, or talk to your boss about a proper way for you to have a nap at your workplace.
  3. They improve your mood
    Has anyone asked you if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed? You very well may just have needed a bit more sleep than you got the night before.

    Sleeping is a crucial aid in maintaining your emotions and regulating your mood. Feeling unmotivated, depressed or anxious are all mood symptoms that may be caused by improper sleeping habits. According to the National Sleep Foundation, some psychological and mood disorders are directly related to sleep disorders and can be alleviated by napping. By taking a 20-minute nap in the day, you can improve your chances of enjoying the rest of the day with a smile on your face.
  4. They help curb your food cravings
    Naps allow your body to source its energy from rest, rather than food. Food cravings can arise as a result of lack of sleep, because if you are not getting enough sleep, your brain will seek the energy it needs through other means. The next time you experience an unwanted urge to eat, try heading for your bed instead of the fridge. A quick nap can to refuel your body and mind.
  5. They improve your heart health
    Sufficient sleep is important for more than just getting through the day. According to the American Heart Association, sleep deficiency has a directly negative effect on cardiovascular health. The association says the risk of dying from coronary heart disease is higher for those getting less than seven hours or more than nine hours of sleep, or taking certain sleep medications. They say further research is needed.

We know that proper sleep is an essential component of health. Talk to your provider about how well you’re sleeping, just as you would about your diet and exercise. Naps may be part of the answer to your fatigue.

About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

More Content by Providence Health Team
Previous Article
10 Less-sugary treats to enjoy this Easter
10 Less-sugary treats to enjoy this Easter

These Easter desserts are made with sugar alternatives for a healthier yet sweetly satisfying celebration.

Next Article
Your Friday 5: The week in health
Your Friday 5: The week in health

If you’re curious about crying babies, light-footed elders, geriatric mice or canny vending machines, you’v...