Is napping bad for you? The reason why YOU should start power napping

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Naps or ‘siestas’ are popular in Spanish culture and even across the Mediterranean, but Brits don’t nap in the same way. If you feel yourself drifting off in the afternoon or any time of day, you might be tempted to give in and have a little sleep… but should you? chatted to Dr Verena Senn, Neurobiologist and Head of Sleep Research at Emma The Sleep Company, to find out the reason why YOU should start power napping.

The power nap really is powerful, according to neurologist Dr Senn.

She said: “Research shows that naps reboot your brain, helping you to approach the rest of your day with a fresh perspective as well as improving memory and learning.

“Studies have also shown that naps improve performance of reaction time, logistical reason and symbol recognition.”

Research shows that even short periods of sleep can have a beneficial impact on memory.

Dr Venn explained: “For instance, you have a big exam coming up, think about sneaking in a quick nap before the test.

“Struggling to drift off on hot summer nights, many may choose to nap during the day to make up for lost sleep.

“However, it should be pointed out that a nap alone cannot make up for poor sleep habits.”

Still not convinced? Well, there are some rules to follow to ensure your naps work for the best rather than the worst.

When should you nap?

Studies show that nap times are best kept to the early to mid-afternoon.

This means you should be getting a nap between 12 and 4pm – no later!

Dr Senn warned: “Any later and you could run the risk of interfering with your normal nightly sleep.”

How long should you nap?

Evidence for the ideal nap length is conflicted, so your journey to becoming a serial napper may involve some trial and error.

Dr Venn said: “Whilst some studies showed a 10-minute sleep produced immediate positive effects on performance and alertness, other studies found that an hour-long nap worked best in helping those who performed poorly on a repetitive task improve.

“The current consensus is that a 10 to 20-minute nap is enough to give you an extra boost of alertness and vigour as it allows you to enter the first stages of restorative sleep without falling into a more groggy deep stage.

“Some experts also recommend 90-minute naps as it gives the possibility to have a full sleep cycle.

“It’s important to remember not to let your afternoon naps be too long or you could end up impacting your sleep at night.”

How often should you nap?

Napping might be great for your health but you should only do it when you really need it.

Whilst polyphasic sleep schedules – periods of sleep and activity spread throughout the 24 hours – have been commonplace throughout history and around the world, as British culture is not set up to accommodate siesta-like sleep patterns, regular napping is likely to interfere with the daily lives of many.

Dr Venn said: “People getting the correct amount of sleep – the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours a night for adults – shouldn’t need to nap often.

“During the summer, resting during the hottest part of the day is a great way to avoid the dangers of the sun and reset yourself for the cooler evening.

“An occasional nap if you’re feeling sleep deprived is also no bad thing.

“However, if this becomes a regular occurrence, I would encourage you to look at what is disturbing your sleep at night.”

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