health nap

Naps aren't just for kids anymore. Embrace your desire to grab a fluffy pillow and catch a quick snooze after lunch. Your body and your mind have a lot to gain from a little bit of rest.

A person’s relationship with sleep changes a lot over a lifetime. Toddlers hate their naps, teenagers love them, and adults wish they could have one if they could just find the time. If the word “nap” makes you feel sleepy, you might be one of the 35% of American adults that get less than seven hours of sleep.

Many people feel tired during the day but don’t have the time to take a nap. You might even feel a little lazy for considering one, especially when you have so much to do. It’s time to push those hesitations aside, because a nap has more to offer than just some sleep.

Here are some health benefits you can enjoy if you take a nap:

More stamina

If you want to run farther, taking a nap could be an important part of your training regimen. In one study, researchers found that men who took a nap performed better in a shuttle run test than those who did not. Naps of up to 45 minutes also showed more benefit than shorter naps of 35 and 25 minutes, and nappers reported lower exertion during the run as well.

Improved immunity

Getting better sleep has been linked to improved immunity, and naps may be part of that equation. People in one study who did not get a good night’s sleep had higher levels of white blood cells, which did not change after they got eight hours of sleep the next night. If they took a nap or got 10 hours of sleep the next night, however, the white blood cell count went back to normal. If you stay up way too late, it pays to make up for it with a nap the next day.

Boost your memory

Taking a little cat nap every day could help you remember important things, like the name of a new friend. Sleep generally helps memory, but researchers believe naps play their own role in helping the brain improve memory. So, if you have trouble putting a name with a face, maybe a nap will help.

Better mood

If your excuse for taking a nap is that it will put you in a better mood, you’ve got science to back you up. Research has shown that people who take a nap are less impulsive and more tolerant of frustration. Taking an afternoon nap can give you the boost you need to be more patient with the people around you.

But don’t overdo it

Naps are great, but there is a limit to the benefit they can provide. Naps should be kept short if you want to reap all their rewards. Naps that last longer than an hour and a half can actually be detrimental for cognition, especially for older people, and other problems can arise as well.

“Taking a nap can give you some needed energy at any age, but it can interfere with your nighttime sleep,” says Deanna Hill, administrator at English Oaks Convalescent and Rehabilitation. “If you find it difficult to sleep at night, try taking a shorter nap at an earlier hour during the day.”

Naps aren’t just for kids anymore. Embrace your desire to grab a fluffy pillow and catch a quick snooze after lunch. Your body and your mind have a lot to gain from a little bit of rest.

Dr. Amy Osmond Cook is a health care technology consultant and VP of marketing at Simplus, a platinum Salesforce partner.