Many experts now agree that taking regular naps is like adding icing to the cake. In other words, those who take cat naps, between 10 to 90 minutes, add more health benefits to an already good night’s sleep. And, it’s good to know that over 34% of Americans nap regularly, so you don’t have to feel guilty!
Short naps are good for the brain. They enhance productivity, memory, cognition, daytime and night alertness, and learning. Studies have demonstrated that people who nap before they go to work at night, have improved performance and alertness. Daytime napping also is associated with improved mental alertness and performance.
Other studies showed improvement in memory, particularly associative memory which is the ability to connect two unrelated objects. One study demonstrated that the test subjects who napped did better on reading retention than those who did not take naps.
They are also good for physical health. Taking regular, short naps can increase one’s stamina and physical performance. Naps also have been shown to boost the immune system. During sleep and naps, the body produces a growth hormone that helps to restore collagen and elastin which are vital to healthy skin.
Longer naps can lead to specific problems. Dr. Charlene Gamaldo, Medical Director of John Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center believes longer naps can cause temporary grogginess or the feeling of a heavy, fuzzy head, and the inability to sleep at night.
The takeaway is this – maintaining a healthy balance between short naps and good quality sleep can result in the greatest health cognitive and physical benefits. Naps are meant to be restorative and even Benjamin Franklin once said “sleep is the best medicine”. He was right and way before his time.