The reason is pretty simple: I haven’t been sleeping 8 hours a night. I know better too – I wrote an article which quoted research showing that only 2.5% of people really need less than 7 hours of sleep every night. Everyone else needs 8 or more hours. Unfortunately, I haven’t been following my own advice.
Once I return to a normal sleep pattern, studies show I will be rested again after about a week. It’s tempting to try to speed up this process by napping. But would taking a nap actually make me feel rested or interfere with my ability to sleep at night?
There’s plenty of evidence that the occasional, short nap can be really good for you.
The National Sleep Foundation found that a 20 to 30-minute nap can boost short-term alertness. A NASA study on pilots showed a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34%. According to researchers from Saarland University in Germany, people who napped for 45 minutes improved their memory five-fold. Georgetown University researchers have linked power naps to increased creativity. There’s even a small study which suggests that napping can help your immune system.
All naps don’t have the same benefits. It’s important to limit the length of your nap – 30 minutes is recommended. You also want to make sure you don’t nap too early or late in the day or you will throw off your sleep cycle – nap about 8 hours after you wake up. While you could take a nap every day, it’s not a substitute for a full night’s sleep and isn’t a cure for a sleep deficit.
In summary, it’s ok to nap when you’re tired: just make sure you address the underlying reason you were tired in the first place.
With that, I’m going to take a nap.