At the extremes of life napping often forms part of the daily routine along with meals, time outside and being amused or entertained. In the years inbetween, we rarely have time to nap as we are so busy with getting stuff done and of course, we don’t feel that we need it. With the exception of illness, a bad night’s sleep or perhaps jetlag (remember that?!), feeling tired during the day and having a short sleep is often the furthest thing from our minds.
However, research has shown that actually, a daytime snooze has been shown to help with mental agility and possibly protect us from cognitive decline over time.
Have we got our priorities back to front?
This recent study has looked at napping in a group of over 2000 people over 60 in different cities in China and found that those who napped regularly were found to score better in a series of tests that looked at memory and thinking processes. Specifically, those who napped regularly - anything from 5 minutes to 2 hours sleep in the afternoon - were found to have higher scores in locational awareness, memory and verbal fluency. The participants had no underlying conditions and slept on average 6.5 hrs per night regardless of whether they napped or not.
But they were over 60…
Naps can be helpful for younger people as well, the key however is time of day and length of the nap to ensure you don’t disrupt your sleep cycle at night. Ideally 20-25 minutes is the maximum for a daytime snooze and this should happen before 3pm. Set an alarm clock and use this time to switch off, rest and recharge. Your noggin will thank you for it, both today and maybe in the future too.