The positive effects of napping: Physical and mental

The Truth about Napping!

Sleep is an essential requirement for our body and mind. Lack of sleep can lead to physical health problems as well as causing “continuous sleep deprivation” (Scearse, 2015). Visualize a material that increases alertness and address the related problem, which is “non-toxic, has no dangerous side effects, and, best of all, is absolutely free” (Mednick and Ehrman, 2006). Such a thing sounds too good to be true, however, it’s as simple as a ‘tactical snooze’.

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Napping has always been a part of the normal daily routine for infants and toddlers, and the “frequency of napping has consistently been reported to increase with advancing age” (Ohayon and Zulley, 1999). In the more recent years, napping has also been shown to benefit adolescents. These benefits have been proved by many experts, with various research providing “well-documented evidence of the benefits of naps during total sleep deprivation” (Bonnet, 1991), in “nightshift workers” (Purnell et al., 2002), and the benefits of “appetitive napping for non-sleep-deprived groups” (Betrus, 1986). Indicating, there are a lot more benefits to napping than meets the eye.

So What Are the Psychological Benefits of Napping?

Learning and memory: Napping has proven to assist the learning process, enhancing individual’s ability to absorb and retain knowledge. This was proven in a study conducted by Diekelmann, Buchel, Born and Rasch, (2011), where two “groups of participants memorized illustrated cards to test their memory strength”. Post memorization, participants were given a forty minute break, wherein one group napped. Once the break concluded, participants were examined on their recall skills, in which, the sleep group’s performance excelled recognising on average “85% of the patterns, compared to 60% for those who had remained awake” (Diekelmann, et al., 2011). Their research reveals that napping drives memories out of the hippocampus where they are “fragile” and quickly forgotten; into the neocortex, thus prohibiting them from being “overwritten” (Diekelmann, et al., 2011).

Alertness: Staying alert is a significant determinant of one’s performance, and individuals that nap display greater alertness and vigilance. Research provides evidence that “planned naps improve alertness and performance in emergency department physicians and nurses, along with first-year medical students” (Smith-Coggins, Howard, Mac, Wang, Kwan, Rosekind, Sowb, Balise, Levis, and Gaba, 2006). This study and more, confirm that napping helps restore attention, reduce mistakes and enhances work quality among individuals (Tietzel and Lack, 2002; Lovato and Lack, 2010; Smith-Coggins, et al., 2006). In addition, napping boosts individual’s capacity to learn on the job.

Reduce Risk of Heart Disease: Studies definitively prove that napping can promote heart-related benefits, with research expressing that a nap as little as forty-five minutes can significantly lower blood pressure, decreasing chances of heart attack and stroke. Naska, Oikonomou, Trichopoulou, Psaltopoulou, and Trichopoulos, (2007) conducted a study on 23,681 individuals in Greece, over a six year period, in which none of the participants suffered from strokes, cancer, and/or coronary heart disease. Their research indicated that individuals who napped twice a week, averaging “thirty minutes a day had a 12% lower risk of dying from a heart-related illness” (Naska, et al., 2007). Napping three times per week, they discovered had a 37% reduced risk.

Mood: Lack of sleep has consistently been linked with bad moods. If individuals have feelings of irritability, crabbiness, or being a total moan, the best solution is often to ‘sleep on it’. Napping promotes the release of serotonin, reversing these “effects and creating a more positive outlook” (Mednick and Ehrman, 2006). Furthermore, studies have shown that napping reduces feelings of depression. “Individuals showed 40% improvement, on the Hamilton-Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD), after taking a nap if the depression was a result of sleep-deprivation” (Gillin, Kripke, Janowsky, and Risch, 1989).

As well as these, sleep experts have found that napping can: “boost creativity, energy, reduce stress, improve perception, stamina, enhance sex life, aid weight loss, decision making and also preserve youthful looks” (Langille, 2012; Mednick and Ehrman, 2006). Conclusively, napping provides countless benefits for individuals of all ages.

How Long Should You Snooze?

When is the best time to catch some Z’s? Napping at different periods leads to various benefits, the type of sleep you get is determined on the time of day and length of nap taken. Mednick and Ehrman (2006) state “the perfect nap for everyone is 90 minutes long”, unfortunately, not everyone has an hour and a half to spare throughout the day.


(Derived from Scearse, 2015)


Betrus, P.A., (1986). “Afternoon Naps: Immediate and Delayed Effects on Performance and Mood”, Dissertation Abstracts International, 46, 3630-3631. [Assessed 21st February 2015]

Bonnet, M.H., (1991). “The Effect of Varying Prophylactic Naps on Performance, Alertness and Mood throughout a 52-Hour Continuous Operation”, Sleep, 14(4), pp. 307-315. Available at: //,d.ZGU [Assessed 21st February 2015]

Diekelmann, S., Büchel, C., Born, J., and Rasch, B., (2011). “Labile or stable: Opposing Consequences for Memory When Reactivated during Waking and Sleep,” Nature Neuroscience, 14(3), pp. 381-386. Available at: // [Assessed 20th February 2015]

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Gillin, J.C., Kripke, D.F., Janowsky, D.S., and Risch, S.C., (1989). “Effects of Brief Naps on Mood and Sleep in Sleep-Deprived Depressed Patients”, Psychiatry Research, 27(3), pp. 253-65. Available at: // [Assessed 22nd February 2015]

Langille, J., (2012). “The Health Benefits of Napping”. Available at: // [Assessed 22nd February 2015]

Lovato, N., and Lack, L., (2010). “The Effects of Napping on Cognitive Functioning”, Progress in Brain Research, 185, pp. 155-166. Available at: // [Assessed 21st February 2015]

Mednick, S., and Ehrman, M., (2006). “Take a Nap! Change Your Life”, pp. 23-27. Available at: // [Assessed 20th February 2015]

Milner, C.E., and Cote K.A., (2009). “Benefits of Napping in Healthy Adults: Impact of Nap Length, Time of Day, Age, and Experience with Napping”, Journal of Sleep Research, 18, pp. 272-281. Available at: // [Assessed 21st February 2015]

Naska, A., Oikonomou, E., Trichopoulou, A., Psaltopoulou, T., and Trichopoulos, D., (2007). “Siesta in healthy adults and coronary mortality in the general population”, Archives of Internal Medicine, 167(3), pp. 296-301. Available at: // [Assessed 22nd February 2015]

Ohayon, M.M., and Zulley, J., (1999). “Prevalence of Naps in the General Population”, Sleep and Hypnosis, 1, pp. 88-97. [Assessed 21st February 2015]

Purnell, M.T., Feyer, A.M., and Herbison, G.P., (2002). “The Impact of a Nap Opportunity during the Night Shift on the Performance and Alertness of 12-H Shift Workers”, Journal of Sleep Research, 11, pp. 219-227. [Assessed 21st February 2015]

Scearse, J., (2015). “All About Napping”. Available at: // [Assessed 21st February 2015]

Smith-Coggins, R., Howard, S.K., Mac, D.T., Wang, C., Kwan, S., Rosekind, M.R., Sowb, Y., Balise, R., Levis, J., and Gaba, D.M., (2006). “Improving Alertness and Performance in Emergency Department Physicians and Nurses: The Use of Planned Naps”, Annals of Emergency Medicine, 48(5), pp. 596-604. Available at: // [Assessed 22nd February 2015]

Tietzel, A.J., and Lack, L.C., (2002). “The Recuperative Value of Brief and Ultra-Brief Naps on Alertness and Cognitive Performance”, Journal of Sleep Research, 11(3), pp. 213-218. Available at: // [Assessed 20th February 2015]



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