Yay Napping! Catching a Few Daytime Zs Can Boost Happiness

Napping has both a good side and bad side to it. Nap too long and you risk waking up groggy and more tired than before, but if your nap is just right, you have a pretty good chance of waking up feeling refreshed and reenergized.

Now, new research suggests that there’s more that napping can offer beyond improved mental alertness and an energy boost. It turns out that napping is linked to greater feelings of happiness.

Over 1,000 people were given a questionnaire where they answered questions based on their napping habits and mood levels. Once the data was collected, the participants were divided into three groups.

The “No Nappers” group didn’t report taking naps. The “Short Nappers” group reported taking naps of 30 minutes or less. And lastly, the “Long Nappers” group reported taking naps of 30 minutes or longer.

The relationship between napping habits and positive mood states were strongest for the short napping group, revealing that 66 percent of short nappers reportedly felt happy. Long nappers were actually the least happy, at 56 percent, and no nappers were somewhere in the middle at 60 percent.

The results are consistent with some of the other benefits of taking shorter naps. Previous research has shown that the effects of reduced fatigue and improved cognitive function can be experienced almost immediately after a very short, 5 to 15-minute power nap. Naps of 30 minutes or longer can cause issues due to sleep inertia for a short period after waking up.

In addition to the improvement in mental alertness as well as the mood boost, the benefits of napping may offer more physiological benefits as well. Napping has been shown to relieve stress, boost the immune system, decrease the risk of some diseases and promote good bone health.

According to WebMD, the sweet spot for napping may be just about 20 minutes. Often referred to as the “stage 2 nap,” the 20-minute nap is ideal for boosting alertness and motor learning skills.

So, should we all ditch long naps in favor of shorter naps? Not necessarily. Long naps still have benefits to offer despite showing slightly lower results on the happiness scale compared to short naps or no nap.

Napping anywhere from 30 minutes up to an hour can help with decision-making and memory. Napping for longer than an hour can lead to REM sleep (rapid eye movement), which helps the brain make new connections and improves problem solving skills.

Other factors to consider include the time of day you choose to nap and the length of a typical sleep cycle. The human circadian rhythm naturally primes itself for sleep at two times in a 24-hour period — usually between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM as well as between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM, meaning that choosing to nap in the early afternoon could enhance the benefits of napping.

One sleep cycle typically lasts about 90 minutes, allowing the brain and body to move through the five main stages of sleep. So if you do choose to go for a longer nap, waking up after an hour and a half versus two hours could make a big difference.

Want to know more about how to become a master at napping? Check out 10 of the most productive ways to take a nap.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

60 comments

Melania P
Melania Padilla1 years ago

Love naps, but I cannot take them during weekdays because of work; but I do during weekends if I can.

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Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D1 years ago

I love my naps...

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Mark T
Mark Turner1 years ago

Ty.

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heather g
heather g2 years ago

One of the joys of being retired.....

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE2 years ago

That is why they have siesta time.

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rosario p
rosario p.2 years ago

"There is no way to happiness: happiness is the way." Buddha Gautama

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Philippa P
Philippa Powers2 years ago

Thanks.

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Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper2 years ago

NOTED!!!!!

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