According to the researchers, studies found out that people above 60 years who napped in the afternoon showed improved cognitive abilities.
Moreover, experts believe that afternoon naps can have mental benefits as it allows the brain to rest during a strict working schedule. Therefore, it refreshes the brain to help continue with more concentration.
In terms of duration, the ideal afternoon naps should range between 10 and 30 minutes. Moreover, the best time for the nap is between 1 and 3 pm. The duration is essential because longer durations can have reversed effects.
Healthline, in its recent post, shares insights like above with expert opinions on afternoon napping. If you like sleeping in the daytime, you might want to continue reading this one.
Afternoon Naps are Often Underrated
Many people think of afternoon naps as a sign of laziness. However, it’s a genius tactic to enhance brain activity. To prove the hypothesis, a study focused on people aged above 60 years to see how they fare in cognitive tests after taking an afternoon nap.
According to the results, people who slept in the afternoon showed better cognitive signs. Those who didn’t sleep fell behind in the cognitive tests. The General Psychiatry Journal published the story, suggesting how more than 2200 people did on China’s cognitive tests.
The Study Setup
The study was conducted in China, where 2214 individuals showed up for their cognitive tests. More than 1500 of these people enjoyed their afternoon naps while nearly 680 didn’t take any.
The study was led by Dr. Lin Sun from Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Center in Shanghai Mental Health Center.
Results indicated that those who napped scored well in their cognitive tests. The exam focused on Mini-Mental State Exam, where the examiners look for dementia signs and assess visuospatial skills, problem-solving, attention span, local awareness, etc.
Why Napping Helps
According to Davina Ramkissoon, our capacity to learn has direct links to our sleeping habits. When we nap, it helps our brain to recover from exhaustion and burnout.
Moreover, the brain goes into cleaning mode and clears out unnecessary information. It’s like clearing the RAM to speed up the CPU processing. Therefore, it is easier for the brain to absorb new information and act faster in decision-making.
Believe it or not, there is nothing more satisfying than a quick nap after lunch. Afternoon naps are one of the most enjoyable experiences, especially if you are an adult.
There’s More to Afternoon Nap than Sharpness
It was interesting to note that both the groups featured in the study have an average of 6.5 hours of nightly sleep. To qualify for an afternoon nap, the individuals must sleep for at least five minutes straight. Moreover, the nap time shouldn’t exceed two hours.
The nappers mentioned that they slept in the afternoon at least once a week. Some of them slept every day. However, it didn’t tell the exact time of the day and the specific duration of sleep.
According to sleep coach Katherine Hall, an afternoon nap’s ideal time is from 1 to 3 pm. Moreover, a suitable duration is a maximum of 30 minutes. If individuals can take a nap in the afternoon, it can have exciting benefits for their mental health.
In addition to mental benefits, there can be mood enhancement, energy boost, and better productivity. Moreover, it can also reduce anxiety and physical tension in the body.
Afternoon naps also make you better aware of things in your surroundings. So, you can better tackle the symptoms of sleep inertia.
Moreover, Hall believes that a 60-minute nap can enhance learning abilities. It happens because a longer nap causes the brain to shift temporary memory to a permanent one.
Are all Naps Healthy?
Even though afternoon naps have many benefits, some of these naps may not show noticeable health improvements.
Hence, Dr. Abhinav Singh from Sleepfoundation.org believes that afternoon naps don’t necessarily prevent adults’ cognitive decline. He goes on to explain how the duration of naps has different effects on the body.
So, shorter naps of less than half an hour can improve alertness and cognitive performance. However, naps longer than an hour haven’t shown any apparent improvements in adults. He mentions how two-hour naps could mean that the need for sleep is increasing in an individual.
Moreover, Dr. Singh mentions that the constant need to sleep for at least an hour could be a sign of sleep deprivation at night.
Generally, medications for arthritis, blood pressure, and anxiety can have adverse effects on sleep, so it is critical to analyze any sleep deficiencies at night to prevent any consequences.
Experts like Dr. Singh are reluctant to comment on the effectiveness of longer-duration naps in the afternoon. Although there are apparent positive signs from shorter naps, the same may not be accurate if you sleep more than an hour during the afternoon.
Therefore, Dr. Abhinav Singh believes that we need more research-backed data to prove just how effective afternoon naps can be. So, individuals must focus on their sleep patterns and ensure that they do not face any cognitive decline with age.