As it turns out, naps aren’t just for babies. For adults, daytime napping can have a number of surprising benefits, including improved creativity, extra alertness and better brain health.
However, there are a few things to remember if you want to get the most from your midday slumber. In short, you’ll want to take it at the right time, keep it brief and get moving after you wake up. (By the way, if you can’t get comfortable or cool enough to fall asleep during the day, this trick might help.)
Read on to learn about the perks of napping during the day.
Can naps boost creativity?
In 2021, researchers put a theory to the test: Can a short nap ignite a creative spark in your brain? The results proved that naps can boost creativity — but for this technique to work, you need to take the right kind of nap. Specifically, your nap should be quick, ending shortly after you drift off to sleep.
The research was inspired by creative minds like Salvador Dalí and Thomas Edison, who used to take brief naps as a way of finding inspiration for their work. These men would go to sleep while holding a small object (like a ball) in their hand, which would fall to the ground when they dozed off. The sound of the object hitting the floor would wake them, and they would get to work.
In the study, participants were given a series of math problems but weren’t told there was a hidden rule that would help them solve the problems much faster. Once they finished, the researchers asked them to try and fall asleep while holding a small cup. Afterward, they gave the participants more math problems. Researchers discovered that those who took a short nap were 2.7 times more likely to figure out the secret rule than those who stayed awake.
More benefits of napping
Extra creativity isn’t the only benefit of napping. Here are some of the other perks that you might notice after you take a nap.
Lower stress levels
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, taking a short nap may help you feel more at ease. One study followed a group of nurses in Japan, about half of whom took two 15-minute naps during their night shift. After resting, researchers found that the nappers were less tense than their colleagues who didn’t sleep.
Similarly, experts say that short afternoon naps can brighten your mood — and even lying down and resting can make you feel more relaxed. To get all the benefits of a nap, they recommend keeping yours under 30 minutes.
A quick midday snooze might even help your memory. In one study, scientists discovered that people who took 30- to 90-minute naps had better word recall than those who didn’t sleep or napped for over 90 minutes.
If coffee just isn’t cutting it, you might be able to improve your alertness by taking a nap. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both short naps (between 15 and 30 minutes) and long naps (90 minutes) can temporarily boost your alertness levels.
Improved brain health
Recent research also suggests that regular napping may benefit your brain health. The study compared two groups of people: those who have a genetic disposition for napping and those who don’t. It found that the nappers had larger brain volumes — in other words, healthier and younger brains — than non-nappers.
Looking for more health tips? Check out 10 daily habits to boost your eye health, six ways to get better sleep if you share a bed with a furry friend and six unexpected things making you overheat at night.