Under the Sheets, The Underappreciated Art of Catnaps

With the modern day person working longer hours, trying to socialise more and trying to be as fit and healthy as possible, sleep can get lost in the mix. Between getting to the office early, hitting the gym, and making sure you attend all the best parties, it’s no wonder that most people are sleep deprived.

For our mental wellbeing, our productivity and our health, it’s paramount that we get enough sleep. We may not get the 7-8 hours of sleep we need every night, and that’s why napping can be a great way to inject a bit of energy back into our daily lives. That’s why, so you can perform at your peak, we’ve collated the top 5 benefits of catnaps.

1. Increases alertness

When your eyelids are almost too heavy to keep open, you’re not doing your best work.

Make time for a nap and then go back at it. Ensure you’ve got a comfortable area to nap in, either with a supportive mattress from Koala Mattress or a comfortable chair, and settle in for some rejuvenation. Studies have found that a 20 minute nap is more effective than either 200 mg of caffeine or a bout of exercise for keeping you feeling invigorated.

2. Improves learning and memory

There’s no doubt about it, naps indeed improve your ‘working memory’.

Working memory is involved in processing complex tasks, where you have to pay attention to one thing while holding a bunch of other things in your brain. Moreover, napping also improves your memory retention. This is because during sleep, recent memories are transferred to the neocortex, where long-term memories are solidified and stored.

3. Prevents burning out

While we often refuse to take a nap because we feel like we have too much to do, studies have shown that putting in extra hours without rest dramatically reduces your productivity. For instance, it would be better to take a 30 minute nap and return to your work refreshed.

This was demonstrated in a study in which subjects performed a visual task over the course of four days. With each successive session, the subjects’ performance on the task deteriorated. But when the subjects were allowed to take a 30 minute nap after the second session, the decline in performance was halted. And after a one hour nap, their performance actually improved in the third and fourth sessions.

4. Improves health

Sleep deprivation can lead to an excess of the hormone cortisol in the body.

Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, helps us deal with fight or flight responses. However, excess cortisol increases glucose intolerance and abdominal fat, weakens the muscular and immune systems, stymies memory and learning, and decreases levels of growth hormone and testosterone in our bodies. These deleterious effects can also lead to diabetes and heart disease.

5. Heightens your senses and creativity

According to sleep scientist Sara C. Mednick, napping can improve your sensory perception as effectively as a night of sleep. This means that steak tastes better, the sunset looks prettier, and music sounds even better after a good nap. Furthermore, napping also improves your creativity by both loosening up the web of ideas in your head and fusing disparate insights together.

Don’t let those heavy eyelids catch you in your next work meeting tomorrow. There’s nothing better than feeling well-rested, alert and productive. If you aren’t getting the nightly sleep that you need, make sure you try and fit in a nap – whether it be on your lunchbreak, or before or after work (depending on your schedule).

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