It was reported last week by American researchers that napping can help lower your blood pressure and generally improve the health of your heart. The effects of a nap were even more significant for those who did not get enough night-time sleep.
Other research carried out in Greece also found that the participants who took at least three, half hour catnaps per week were found to have a 37% lowered risk of suffering a heart related death. Research from the University of California, Berkeley found that participants taking a 90 minute nap during the day performed better in a mental test than those who did not. In fact, it was found that this 90 minute nap helped repair and store short-term memories, while increasing the brain’s ability to absorb new information. It seems that after the nap your brain is ready to receive and process additional data more readily.
However, is there an art to cat-napping?
How long should I catnap?
6 Minutes: A 2008 German study found that this is enough time to start processing short-term memories to help clear “space” for new information.
20 Minutes: With a twenty minute power nap you go through the first 2 stages of the sleep cycle. When you wake up you will see an improvement in your alertness, concentration and mood level. In fact, even if you don’t fall asleep during this twenty minutes, your relaxed state of mind will still prove to be beneficial.
40 Minutes: A 40 minute nap will provide big benefits if you didn’t get a good nights sleep. This will put you into the REM sleep stage where the brain undergoes a clearing-out and sorting process. Sleep therapist, Dr Narina Ramlakhan at the Capio Nightingale Hospital in London says that “Evidence shows that napping for this amount of time is also enough to rebalance the immune system and pep up energy levels.”
90+ Minutes: Obviously, most people don’t have the time to take a 90+ minute nap during the day. Sleeping for between 90-180 minutes will take you through all the sleep stages and will also result in bodily repairs.
When should I catnap?
This will depend on your sleeping pattern. Typically, your body will release higher levels of melatonin between 1pm-3pm with a peak during the night when you sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that helps relax the body ready for a state of sleep.
If you go to bed early and wake up early then a good time to cat-nap would be around 1pm. Alternatively, if you are a night-owl and tend to go to sleep after midnight then a nap around 2:30pm would be preferable.
For more information check out the Daily Mail.