If you feel like calling it a day and dozing off for a bit, don’t feel bad — Monday, March 15, is National Napping Day.
Finding the time to rejuvenate and recover amid daily responsibilities can be hard, but napping has benefits that could help you level up in your overall health and productivity — meaning there is no reason to feel as if you’re lazy for indulging in a little you-time.
That’s if you’re not someone struggling with “coronasomnia,” a term some have given the inability to fall asleep or get good quality sleep during the coronavirus pandemic. An occasional nap can be healthy, but one longer than 45 minutes could interfere with your circadian rhythm – making falling asleep later that night more difficult.
If you haven’t been experiencing coronasomnia, here are five reasons why you should catch some zzz’s:
We just lost an hour of sleep
If the lurching forward of the clock for Daylight Saving Time on Sunday made you noticeably more tired, you’re not the only one. This time change was actually the inspiration for National Napping Day, which takes place annually the day after the clocks move ahead.
In 1999, the late William Anthony, a psychologist and Boston University professor, and his wife, Camille, instituted National Napping Day. Their intent was to overcome American cultural prejudice against napping and to raise awareness about the health benefits of catching up on quality sleep.
“We figured this would be a good day to celebrate the importance of napping because everyone is one hour more sleep-deprived than usual,” Anthony said in a 2006 BU Today article. “The fact is that the majority of Americans are sleep-deprived even without Daylight Saving Time.”
Because of their efforts, some workplaces have observed the day with nap breaks. Thank you, William Anthony.
Naps can charge your brain’s batteries
A NASA-funded study on astronauts found that naps up to two and a half hours long improved working memory performance. Working memory involves focusing attention on one task while holding other tasks in memory, so a poor working memory could result in errors, according to a NASA news release.
Taking a nap may make you more alert for the period right after you wake up and maybe hours into the day. A short snooze may also make you feel more relaxed.
You’ll have lower risk for heart problems
After tracking more than 3,400 people between the ages of 35 and 75 for slightly more than five years, the researchers found that those who indulged in occasional napping — once or twice a week, for five minutes to an hour — were 48% less likely to experience a heart attack, stroke or heart failure than those who didn’t nap at all.
It might even help you get into shape
A 2020 study focusing on women found the more sleep-deprived the women were, the more likely they were to consume added sugar, fatty foods and caffeine.
A lack of quality sleep could lead to overeating because inadequate sleep is believed to stimulate hunger and suppress hormone signals that communicate fullness. The findings were important because women are at high risk for obesity and sleep disorders, the researchers said, which can both be driven by a high intake of food.
Napping has been found to improve the overall quality of even nighttime sleep.
And boost your creativity
The right side of your brain may experience a mental spark during a nap, research has suggested. The right side is the hemisphere most associated with creative tasks, like visualization and thinking, while the left is more analytic.
Researchers monitoring the brain activity of 15 people found that the right side of their brain communicated busily with itself as well as with its left counterpart. The left side of the brain, on the other hand, remained relatively quiet. In a January 2020 study of 2,214 Chinese adults ages 60 and older, participants who took afternoon naps for five minutes to two hours showed better mental agility than those who didn’t nap.
Napping may not ensure success in every aspect of your life, but it could improve your health and reboot your brain. Now go lie down.
CNN’s Sandee LaMotte and Megan Marples contributed to this report.