What do Albert Einstein, Lady Gaga and George W. Bush have in common? Nope, not their fashion sense. The answer is …their naps. Each of these famous people is known for famously protecting their daytime dozing. Dozens of other napping notables join their ranks. Lyndon Johnson conducted presidential meetings while resting in his bed. Bill Clinton once nodded off during a Mets baseball and a memorial service for Martin Luther King Jr.
Why do we love our naps? Well, one reason is rooted in our biology. Many people’s inner clock slows between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., also known as the “postprandial dip.” Many cultures actually honor this natural energy lull with the allowable afternoon siesta, when shops close and people doze.
Sometimes people catnap because they don’t sleep enough at night. Not all of us can be like Martha Stewart who typically sleeps just four hours a day. For many of us, too-few-hours of nighttime shuteye virtually guarantees that we’ll take (or at least wish we could take) a catnap later in the day.
Body clocks and sleep deprivation aren’t the only reasons for taking a nap. Apple, Google and several other Fortune 500 businesses actually allow their staff to sleep on the job, taking naps to reboot their brains and bodies. They believe they reap the benefits in employees’ increased productivity as well as overall morale boost.
The benefits of sleep are myriad, proving that the old saying “You snooze, you lose” couldn’t be farther from the truth. At least not according to scientists and researchers who say naps are good for you in these and other ways:
- Improved thinking and problem solving
- Sharpened focus and alertness
- Increased memory
- Steadied emotional resiliency
- Cleansed brain toxins
- Reduced risk for heart disease
- Lowered obesity and improved weight loss
In fact, researchers at U.C. Berkley found that an hour nap significantly increases memory and learning ability. In another study at the University of Colorado—Boulder, kids who didn’t nap proved more cranky and anxious. There’s even proven research on the ideal length for naps and what happens if you nap for too long.
Getting a good night’s rest on a regular basis is the best plan. But whether or not you get a full night’s sleep, a 10-15 minute rest during the day can leave you feeling recharged. So find a restful place to snooze and turn down the lights. Pull out the fuzzy socks, the lavender eye mask and the ocean soundtrack and nod off.