The prejudice against the NAP, finally starting to unwind – and for good reason.
Unlike 85% of all mammalian species, humans sleep just once a day. Scientists are not sure, natural for people monophasic sleep (unlike polyphasic) or did modern society. Despite this, it is clear that we don’t get enough sleep. Almost a third of people say they don’t have enough sleep.
NAPs can alleviate our so-called sleep debt, but it can also make more productive our brains, including improvements to creative problem solving, verbal memory, perceptual learning, object learning, and statistical learning.
It can help in mathematics, logical reasoning, reaction times, and symbol recognition. Siesta improves mood and removes the feeling of sleepiness and fatigue. Not only that, the dream of the heart, blood pressure, stress levels and, surprisingly, even for weight control. Now you don’t need excuses, if you want to take a NAP.
In a study conducted in Greece, researchers found that adult men who were dozing after lunch three times a week had 37% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared with men who did not allocate time for short NAPs.
In many countries it is customary to have a rest (Siesta) after lunch, and, by coincidence, almost all of these countries have very low level of death from heart attacks. At the other end of the scale, countries such as the UK and the USA. In these countries the main cause of death are heart attacks, and as most of us know, neither of these two societies is not in favor of NAPs. In fact, short sleep in the afternoon can cost you your job.
So now we know that the slumber is beneficial for heart health, but what are the other benefits of an afternoon NAP?
improved cognitive activity;
the reduction of stress.
Innovative NASA research 1995 studied the beneficial effect of a NAP on 747 pilots. Each participant was allowed to sleep for 40 minutes during the day, averaging 25.8 minutes (almost correctly). The report “showed improvement in alertness from 16% in average reaction time to 34% in the intervals compared to the group without rest”.
A 2008 study showed that NAPs are better than caffeine when it comes to improving verbal memory, motor skills and perception. The researchers slept 60 – 90 minutes. Cup of coffee is consumed faster. But, as noted in the study, caffeine is known to worsen motor sequence learning and declarative verbal memory.