Why is Napping Healthy?

By Claire Lindsey on March 4, 2013

Why is napping healthy, you ask?  Well, as busy college students, sleep is often sidelined for more important things, like schoolwork and partying.   On the weekends we can be out socializing until two or three in the morning, and during the week we’re pulling all-nighters to finish that term paper or memorize those flashcards.  So, because normal nighttime rest can be so hard to come by, napping has become a huge part of the normal college student’s life—and that’s a good thing.  Napping is healthy.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, napping can lead to a stronger mind and body.  Although napping can often be looked down up as an activity for the lazy, here is a look at why napping is so important, and why you should incorporate it into your daily routine.

First, napping has existed for thousands of years and in many different cultures.  Naps originate from Islam, where the Prophet Muhammad promoted mid-day sleeping in The Hadith, from the Qur’an, and realized that napping is healthy.  In ancient Rome, napping was a physical necessity, as opposed to a luxury.  The Romans would sleep in the afternoon, to take a break from the heat of the middle of the day, and to ensure productivity throughout the evening.  Obviously the Siesta is a common activity in many European countries, especially places where it is warm, to recharge and refocus away from the heat.

So why are naps so important?  There are many advantages to napping, both mentally and physically.  First, a short nap (20-30 minutes) improves alertness and concentration by 34% and 100%, respectively (according to a study by NASA).  Napping also reduces stress, which lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.  The reason for this is because of the hormone serotonin, which regulates appetite, mood and sleep.  When you nap serotonin is released, calming you down and reversing the effects of stress.   In addition, research has found that naps boost your immune system, primes your sexual functions, and aids in muscle repair and weight loss.  So obviously, napping is not just an excuse to get out of working—napping is a healthy thing to do.

With all the information that has been released about napping recently, some companies have been incorporating it into their policies.  Zappos, Google, Nike and the Huffington Post have created “nap rooms,” where employees can relax and nap during the afternoon, in order to recharge during the typical afternoon dip in energy.

So what does all this mean to you?  It means that you no longer have to feel guilty about that quick afternoon nap between classes, because now you know that your nap will give you more energy in the long run, making your days more productive.

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