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Should I Take a Nap? The Pros and Cons of a Midday Snooze

Are naps a good thing? If so, what are the benefits? Leonardo da Vinci was a renowned artist, inventor, and observer of the natural world. He was also a man with incredibly odd sleeping habits. Purportedly, da Vinci never slept for more than twenty minutes at a time every four hours.

Over the years, many experts have recommended such a sleep schedule, but the question is something like this healthy? Beyond this, are there any health benefits to taking an afternoon nap? What might be some of the downsides to taking naps? This article will provide some answers to these questions and hopes to shed some light on this dilemma.

Benefits of Naps

There are many potential benefits of napping. To name a few:

  • Catching up on sleep

    older man taking a nap at his desk If you had a rough night sleeping the previous night, taking a short nap can help to mitigate some of the side effects of minor sleep deprivation. For individuals 55 and over, taking naps can certainly help to recover from nightly trips to the restroom or a generally restless night.
  • Improve memory and physical performance

    Anecdotally, taking a nap has always helped recharge the batteries, but how much 'recharge' can one expect? The answer to this is, of course, it varies. Depending on the duration of the nap, you may find that you become sluggish. This is why short naps are most recommended. Short naps can help improve memory, as sleep is when short-term memory is converted into long-term memory. Short naps can also help to improve overall physical performance throughout the day.
  • woman resting taking nap on the beech relaxing

    Lower blood pressure

    Many people, as they age, tend to develop some level of hypertension, mild or otherwise. Studies indicate that a short nap can help lower blood pressure.
  • Help Keep You Alert

    When feeling tired or groggy throughout the day, your body and mind are signaling that a little more sleep would be nice. Even in the 55+ community, many of us have demanding careers that force us to stay awake later and wake up earlier than we would like.

    This becomes a problem when it moves from a "sometimes", maybe a little on the weekends, to an every day or every night occurrence. Our bodies are complex machines that require the correct amount of sleep to operate at peak efficiency. Napping can help to keep you alert on the job or even just when keeping an active retirement lifestyle.
  • Stress Relief

    Stressful situations tend to linger on the body even after they are resolved. You may feel fatigued or find that you are more easily irritated due to such exhaustion. A quick nap can help decrease any swelling or inflammation you may be experiencing and help balance your emotions.
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The Drawbacks of Napping

It shouldn't be ignored that while napping has many great advantages, it can also create some problems. Consider the following drawbacks before your next nap:

  • Sluggishness

    While taking a nap when tired is never a bad idea, if you've got the time, taking a long nap or a nap at the wrong time of day can often lead to feeling groggy or sluggish. This sluggishness is also referred to as 'sleep inertia.'
  • Bucking Your Sleep Schedule

    Getting the best sleep can often come from building a continuous or stable routine. If you take a nap too late in the afternoon, it has the potential to completely throw off your sleep schedule. As we age, sleeping for long periods of time can become challenging for a multitude of reasons. Given this truth, we understand that setting a routine for sleep is critical for getting the most benefit from our sleep.

In conclusion, we see that there are a few minimal drawbacks to napping. If your naps are planned or timed correctly, overall, napping is a good practice.

As the old adage goes, all things are good in moderation. Listen to your body. If you're tired and you have time, take a nap. Rest your eyes a bit. Most experts seem to agree that your nap should be no longer than 45 minutes but also that it could be as short as 15 minutes.

If you haven't gotten enough sleep the night before, you can do no better for yourself than taking a short nap to recharge the batteries.

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