Do Naps Help Cognitive Function?

Who doesn’t love taking a quick nap? What if we could make naps better? Fortunately for all of us nap lovers, research shows that naps can help increase cognitive function and improve overall wellbeing. In today’s article, we will go over whether or not napping can improve cognitive function, what a healthy nap is, and for how long and how often you should nap. 

Does Napping Improve Cognitive Function?

It’s easy to feel a little guilty after taking a nap in the middle of the day. After all, we’ve been programmed to believe we’re supposed to be productive every waking hour of the day. However, napping can help boost cognitive function. A boost in cognitive function can help you be more productive. 

Research shows that a 30-90 minute nap can have brain benefits. However, anything longer than 90 minutes can create problems with cognitive function and the ability to think and form memories. So, taking short naps can help improve function, but overdoing it could actually be harmful. 

Are Naps Good For Mental Health?

The older we get, the more important it is to take care of our cognitive health. One of the best ways to do that is by taking an afternoon nap. Research shows that an afternoon nap may make you mentally sharper if you’re over the age of 60. Adults who take naps often score higher on cognitive tests than those who don’t nap. 

It’s important to note that not all naps are healthy. Longer naps can be problematic. If you find yourself napping for longer than an hour regularly, it could be a sign that your nighttime sleep quantity and quality are not enough. Regular long naps are often a sign that your body is attempting to compensate for increased inflammation related to cognitive decline and dementia. 

How Does Napping Affect Your Brain?

Sleep is broken up into two different parts: rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM). When you go to sleep at night, you experience NREM sleep for 60-90 minutes until REM sleep kicks in. A healthy night's sleep is usually four to six consecutive sleep cycles of REM and NREM. 

When you are in REM, your body becomes immobile, and your eyes move around rapidly. Your blood pressure will rise, and your breathing rate will increase. During NREM sleep, the body is still, and your breathing and heart rate slow down.

Do Daytime Naps Improve Memory?

One of the primary benefits of napping is that naps can improve your memory. A recent study found that those who nap around 45-60 minutes regularly can perform approximately five times better when it comes to memorizing word pairs. Researchers believe these results show that napping can significantly boost associative memory. 

However, the same study found that short naps were not associated with improvements in item memory - the ability to remember phone numbers or names, for example. It should be noted that further research is required to determine the effectiveness of naps on memory and cognitive function. 

Do Naps Help With Anxiety?

Another benefit of napping is that it can help reduce anxiety! Naps and anxiety are linked due to the pressure naps can take off the brain. Unfortunately for those dealing with anxiety, falling asleep can be a difficult task. Here are some things you can do to help you fall asleep quicker:

  • Nap during the same time every day - this will help your body get used to napping
  • Put away your phone and other devices - we all know these devices can make it difficult to sleep
  • Wear a sleep mask - wearing a sleep mask will prevent light from entering your eyes
  • Set an alarm - be sure to set an alarm to ensure you’re not asleep too long

If you are dealing with anxiety, try to implement short naps into your daily routine. 

Is It Ok To Take A Two Hour Nap Every Day?

As we have mentioned earlier in this article, sleeping for too long can be harmful to your body. Therefore, we would highly recommend against taking two-hour naps. Here are some of the risks of regularly taking long naps:

  • Serious health conditions - Research shows that napping too long can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • Lower life expectancy - Research shows that short naps can increase lifespan while long naps can decrease life expectancy
  • Issues falling asleep at night - Taking long naps during the day can make it difficult to fall asleep at night, which can lead to additional health issues
  • Poor cognitive function - Short naps can have a positive effect on cognitive function while long naps have a negative effect

Is It Bad To Nap Every Day?

As long as you don’t have issues falling to sleep at night, experts believe napping every day can be good for health. Of course, this is if your naps are short. As we have mentioned throughout the article, if you nap longer than an hour, it can be harmful to your health. This is especially true if you’re taking these long naps every day. 

Do Naps Increase Serotonin?

Research shows that naps can help your mood. When asleep, our bodies produce serotonin, which is also known as the happy chemical. This will help you feel energized and positive when you wake up from your nap!