When energy naturally drops in the afternoon, coffee and sugar tend to be the usual stimulants of choice. But afternoon sleepiness is a biological rhythm related to a slight decrease in body temperature — nature is telling us that it wants us to take a nap. By attempting to ward off drowsiness with caffeine and sugary snacks, biorhythm is disrupted, extra calories are consumed and a rollercoaster ride of energy spikes and crashes begins. This vicious cycle contributes to unwanted extra pounds.
Alertness, Improved Mood and Performance
A mid-afternoon nap can help with depression, dullness and lack of clarity — all of which can hinder physical and mental performance. As seen in the Harvard Health Letter, a New Zealand study found that “air traffic controllers working the night shift scored better on tests of alertness and performance if they took advantage of a planned nap period of 40 minutes.”
A nap can also:
- Slow down or reverse the process aging
- Increase the sex drive
- Accelerate the ability to perform motor tasks
- Enhance how the body uses carbs
- Minimize stress hormones
- Alleviate migraines
- Reduce brain chatter before nighttime sleep
Research has found that napping regularly may reduce stress and even decrease your risk of heart disease. To get the most out of a power snooze, follow these quick tips:
- Be consistent. Keep a regular nap schedule. Prime napping time falls in the middle of the day, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
- Make it quick. Set your cell phone alarm for 30 minutes or less if you don’t want to wake up groggy.
- Go dark. Nap in a dark room or wear an eye mask. Blocking out light helps you fall asleep faster.
- Stay warm. Stash a blanket nearby to put over you because your body temperature drops while you snooze.