Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, David D.

Go ahead and crawl into bed while the birds are singing and the sun is still up because naps are good for you. A growing body of scientific evidence says so. That’s why you’re seeing a nap revolution with celebrities like supermodel Heidi Klum, singers John Legend and Taylor Swift exercising their right to nap. Even corporations like Ben & Jerry’s, Google and Uber are providing designated sleep spaces for their employees.

For older adults, the physical and mental health benefits are significant. A study of 3,000 Chinese adults ages 65+ found that those who napped post-lunch for 30 to 90 minutes had better overall cognitive function compared to non-nappers.

Having short naps have an array of physical and mental benefits. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, FaceMePLS.

Having a wee kip, as the Scots might say, also does your heart good. According to research published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, regular nappers (three times a week) have a 37 percent reduction in their risk of heart disease. In another study, daytime snoozers had lower their blood pressure by four percent when awake and six percent when asleep than those foregoing naps. Even small reductions in blood pressure can lessen the chances of cardiovascular events by up to 10 percent.

Can napping make you smarter? Yes! With sufficient sleep, older adults can boost their ability to retain and access new information. Scientists have noted that sleep plays an important part in the consolidation of memories.

And no one will be surprised to learn that naps help with recharge your energy levels and increase alertness. The National Sleep Foundation suggests an energy-boosting nap of 20 to 30 minutes. For those over the age of 55, it can help top up energy levels.

Shorter naps are also effective for those who are tight on time. “Just a 10-minute nap can increase your alertness for 2 to 3 hours,” says Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg, a board certified sleep physician and author of The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety, based in Prescott Valley, AZ. “It’s an effective way to recover from a poor night’s sleep and it will help improve your memory, your mood and even decrease the incidence of heart disease and diabetes, especially for short power nappers.”

For older adults, naps can help with cognitive learning and memory recall. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, AppliedVitals.

How to nap like a champ

  • Head for a quiet, dark place – the same rules that apply for your regular sleep. You’ll also need minimal light and disruptions.
  • Get comfy. That doesn’t necessarily mean get totally horizontal and climb into bed. You can cozy up in your favourite lounge chair or simply put your head on your desk.
  • Take off anything tight and constrictive. Kick off your shoes or undo your belt.
  • Aim for the nap sweet spot. Body temperatures tend to dip naturally between 1 and 3 p.m., so you’ll be well primed to grab some shuteye in that window.
  • Set an alarm to avoid napping too long. That may cause sleep inertia and result in you feeling foggy for up to 35 minutes. Longer snoozes may interfere in your nighttime sleep.