Silentnight sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan reveals the benefits of napping.
Napping can greatly improve your health and wellbeing. But it’s important that it’s done properly and everyone can learn how to nap.
Power nap – this is the one we can all benefit from doing. It must be done lying or sitting comfortably. If lying you don’t necessarily need to be in bed but use a comfy pillow to support your head and neck. A power nap is a state of relaxation that you can do for 10-20 minutes but no longer. Ideally it must be done at some point between 2 and 4pm but no later otherwise it might affect your night-time sleep. A daily powernap is a great thing to do.
Replacement naps – these naps last up to 40 minutes but no longer otherwise you will go into deep sleep and emerge with feeling groggy – this is called ‘sleep inertia’. Again, to be taken at some time between 2 and 4pm. This is the nap that really bolsters the immune system, repairs muscles and helps them to grow (so it’s good for athletes), and can be anti-aging. You can also use such naps to counter the effects of working shifts and jet lag.
Yoga nidra naps – this is the crème de la crème of napping using yoga based techniques to relax the body and mind. Shown to have a wide range of benefits for physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
Additional benefits of napping include:
- They can help to calm the nervous system thus making night time sleep more restful
- Studies show that it can increase cognitive performance and concentration
- Help to create good habits just having time away from technology, screens and information
- Can rebalance the immune system if coming down with a cold or flu
- It’s innate – evidence shows that our physiology is designed to be polyphasic ie several short naps in a day and it takes the pressure of needing 7 or 8 hours at night
- Good for eye health – looking at screens all day weakens the muscles of the eyes leading to eyesight deterioration. People who have naps in the afternoon tend to be more bright eyed and alert in the afternoon
- Naps have been shown to boost creativity and problem solving ability
- Relieves stress by reducing adrenaline levels – especially if done in conjunction with deep breathing techniques
- Naps boost mood by giving us a small shot of serotonin
- Improved cardiovascular health – studies show that regular napping can reduce cardiovascular risk by lowering blood pressure
For more information and sleep advice visit Dr Nerina's Sleep Toolkit on silentnight.co.uk
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