A 20-minute nap is a power booster to your psyche and overall health
Updated: Apr 27
Have you ever taken a nap during the day and wake up feeling more refreshed? If we look at different cultures, many countries actually welcome and impose a time of day dedicated to sleeping.
Spaniards have the concept of "Siesta" a short nap in the afternoon - most commonly after the lunch meal. In Japan, the Japanese have the concept of "Inemuri" which literally translates to "to be asleep while present". Japan is really big on the idea of sleeping on the job...without getting fired! If you thought this was crazy, in Italy, businesses, public venues, and even churches close from 12-2 pm so that employees can go home and snooze off, a concept called "riposo". How about China, where napping is an actual constitutional right, and you can expect workers to take a nap for an hour after lunch!
In all actuality, all you need is a good 20 minutes of a power nap, in the afternoon for a "pick me up". I am Iranian, and even in my culture there is an expression that says "you must sleep after lunch, and you must walk after dinner"!
This idea of a power nap boosting your mental psyche and health has been proven by a body of research. Dr. Sara Mednick is at the forefront of this research and her published writing on this subject has been so fascinating to me.
She claims that to learn new information better without overworking your brain, you need rest; your brain needs to shut off often. Her research has shown that napping, maintains, and even boosts our skills, such as problem-solving, perpetual learning, verbal memory, and object learning.
Watch her amazing TED talk on her research about resting and taking naps.
Sleeping restores basic functions. People who do not sleep have irregular hormones, reach for junk food, and have a higher risk for obesity, diabetes, depression, impaired cognition, and cardiovascular disease.
In her lab, she researched the performance of subjects throughout the day (without napping). Performance levels decreased as time passed, and nothing (even financial motivation) helped to raise performance levels back to the initial stage.
Then she had the subjects take a nap from 12-4 ( ~ 60-minute naps) and interestingly enough, performance went back to basal levels.
Napping's benefits are as amazing as sleeping throughout the night (a whole night of restful sleeping, that does not include waking up to eat). In the following graph, you can see, that Dr. Mednick's subjects (who napped during the day) performed the same as the people who slept at night, uninterrupted.
Napping increases your creativity by 40%, this is because, during our sleep, our brain gets to make memories, and our bodies begin to repair cells and tissues. Sleeping gives you a refreshed feeling, and the ability to make new memories and learn more information, hence increase your skills (such as creativity).
We are not naturally supposed to be working so many hours of a day, so many hours in a week, wishing for Friday, wishing for a break, praying for a holiday, just so we can rest. We shouldn't reach for caffeine, Adderall, and Ritalin, but instead, we should take rest.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 20-30 minute nap during the day, and if we apply Dr. Mednick's application of health benefits to napping in the day, 20 minutes of a nap a day is essential to maintain normal hormone levels, repair cells, and tissues, and have the ability to learn more information without becoming exhausted.