Napping in infants and young children is very common cross-culturally, but by adulthood, cultural practices negatively influence napping behaviors and tend to look down upon the idea as a whole. When in reality studies show that napping in adulthood has the exact same benefits if not better than napping in childhood.
Napping has recently received increased attention because of its associations with health and its use as a tool to understand the function of sleep, with both areas of research showing positive effects on one’s well-being. In public health literature, some studies show that napping is associated with decreased mortality risk. Scientific evidence also shows that our brains benefit from a brief period of actual sleep (a nap), not just a quiet period, to recover from fatigue and to help restore alertness. Both short (15-30 minute) and long (1.5-hour) naps can increase alertness.
Because the benefits of napping can play a big role in the psychology and emotional functions of life, it is important to learn more about this topic and the information it has to offer. In healthy populations, studies show perceptual learning , memory, creativity, and alertness are directly related to the benefits napping provides. In addition, naps help promote homeostasis and recovery to immune functioning and other health risks as a result of sleep deprivation. Furthermore, people who nap for one hour or more daily, or nap due to excessive sleepiness, are likely psychologically, socially, and physiologically different from people who do not participate in napping at all. Thus, there may be differences in the health between individuals who nap voluntarily for relatively short periods of time versus individuals who do not nap at all.
Author Jay Summer explains how napping can be beneficial for the brain and body when used correctly. Summer explains in healthy circumstances where a person is regularly napping and not using the practice to cope with sleep loss or depression the benefits are substantial. Summer specifically explains how napping can increase functionality, performance, and memory especially in teenagers and students.
Naps can be particularly beneficial for students who struggle to get enough sleep and have to be alert at irregular times.A short daytime snooze may also boost workplace performance . A nap can improve cognitive functions such as memory , logical reasoning, and the ability to complete complex tasks.
Experts typically recommend that adults take naps eight or more hours before bedtime. For most people, that means napping no later than 3pm, napping too late in the day may contribute to nighttime sleep problems which could negatively affect the amount of rest you get and ultimately cause a downward spiral of mental illness. This is important because you want to make sure you are safely practicing your resting technique so you do not defeat the purpose of a good nap. A good resting environment is cool, quiet, and dark. Having a comfortable nap setting can help prevent unwanted interruptions or awakenings. Typically a bedroom is likely a good place for a short snooze since it is already set up to promote sleep. Adding blackout curtains or a white noise machine to block out distractions may help both at night and during daytime naps.
Author Afy Okaye goes more into depth about the numbers of society and napping today. Her studies tell us what percentages of adults and teens are actually using the benefits napping has to offer in their daily lives. The underwhelming numbers she found were very concerning, especially compared to the previous generation before us.
Cultural practices influence napping behaviors, with the frequency of napping at least once per week varying between 36% to 80% . Recent estimates indicate that 41%–74% of healthy American adults nap at least once per week.
What’s so shocking about how the western world views napping is how different it is from the rest of the world. In other countries it’s a custom to nap and is constantly sought out by the general public everyday. The Riposo, as it’s known in Italy, is a time for Italians to “retreat” from the hottest part of the day and rest. Similar to Spain’s siesta, the Riposo is a custom throughout Italy. Depending on your location, Riposo may take place anywhere from 1 pm to 5 pm. Many shops and stores will close during this time in order to enforce this rule. Shop owners and workers may go home, enjoy a delicious lunch, and savor time away from work. It’s a perfect time to settle in under a weighted blanket, close your eyes, and recharge for the remainder of the day. In Frank Olito’s Insider article https://www.insider.com/sleeping-habits-from-around-the-world-2018-7 he states “Here in the United States, people typically go to sleep at night and wake up a little after sunrise. Some people take short naps throughout the day, while others stay awake until bedtime. While sleeping patterns vary from person to person, the act of sleeping is common amongst us all”. Thus proving the irregular sleeping habits across the globe and how we can learn from them.
In conclusion, these studies on napping raise exciting possibilities for future research, such as examining the stability and structure of reasons for napping throughout the lifespan, as well as the psychological, social, and health processes associated with napping behaviors. Understanding the reasons why people nap, as well as the correlates of these napping behaviors, can provide insights into normal and destructive nap behaviors in healthy and unhealthy populations. As research advances and the public becomes more aware of the benefits naps can have on the mind and body, hopefully we see this art being practiced regularly. Thanks to foreign countries like Italy and Spain we know that this idea is not so far fetched and with the power of knowledge a change can be made. As society becomes more fast paced due to technological advances and more cases of depression and anxiety arise it’s obvious that the well being of students and society will suffer. Maybe napping is the answer to these ongoing problems.
Okaye, A. (2022, December 13). Types of naps. The Sleep Doctor. Retrieved December 17, 2022, from https://thesleepdoctor.com/napping/types-of-naps/
Olito , F. (2012, May 8). The benefits of Napping. Harvard Health. Retrieved December 17, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-benefits-of-napping
Summer , J. (2021, October 27). Can a nap boost brain health? Can a Nap Boost Brain Health? | Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved December 17, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/can-a-nap-boost-brain-health