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Against common recommendations of increasing physical activity, it's good to pay attention to the fact, that well-planned and properly measured proportion of “lazing” may also cause positive effects. Of course, I mean light, afternoon nap, which may have positive influence on the body. It's very important not to overuse the practice of dozing in order to make it only an addition to healthy and active lifestyle.
Sleep is not the waste of time
We often perceive sleep intuitively as “a waste of time”, after all, how many things could be done more efficiently and without rush if not the necessity of sleep... However, in reality, sleep is very important and insufficient amount of it has negative influence on our body. Unfortunately, the problem of sleep deprivation is very common and it also concerns people who care about their health, physical condition and shape. On the everyday basis we don't always have the opportunity to spend enough time for the night sleep, fortunately, the results of the possible sleep deprivation may be somehow compensated with a short afternoon nap. Of course, also those who sleep long enough at night may do it, too. The list of benefits of such activity is quite long.
Good mood after the afternoon nap
Every person, who has ever been sleepy knows, that such state of mind influences negatively the mood: mental condition is worse, a person is irritated and depressed. Analogically, additional dose of sleep during the day helps such person release the mental and physical tension. People who live in constant stress should take afternoon naps. You just need less than twenty minutes to improve your mood by lowering the level of cortisol, also known as the hormone of stress. It's also quite advantageous – if it is possible – to go to sleep for 1 – 2 hours before a stresfull event, e.g. before public speech or an interview. Thanks to such procedure, you will be able to decrease the mental tension and improve creativity.
Better memory and concentration
There are reasons to believe that a nap lasting less than twenty minutes may have positive influence on memory and concentration, which is obviously tranferrable to the efficiency of mental work, independently from the fact if it is connected with work-related activity or studying. This fact is used in Japanese corporations – the workers are sometimes sent for a special nap during the working day. Thanks to such procedure, they are more efficient. What's interesting, it has been also observed that short naps improve alertness and the ability to make fast decisions. This fact was proven in the studies done on soldiers (fighter pilots) with the use of flight simulators. It turned out that after a short nap they reacted faster and they assessed the situations better.
Nap for headache
Sleep is also a good painkiller. I suppose, every person has observed this kind of advantage at least once in their lifetime by going to sleep with headache and waking up without this troublesome problem. What's interesting, the observations done during the last few years point out that people who sleep for a short time suffer from various kinds of pain more often and stronger than those who sleep well for a longer time. This dependency concerns, most of all, headache and the ailments connected with menstruation pain. What's interesting, a short nap during the day may be beneficial in such situations.
“Are you hungry? Go to sleep...” - such slogan could advertise sleep as a slimming product. Actually, there's something about it, because when we sleep... we don't eat. And, being serious, it is proven that sleepy people eat more and control their appetite worse, which is probably caused by the increased excretion of ghrelin and cortisol. Sleep – also that in the afternoon, symbolic – helps to lower the levels of the mentioned hormones and make the control over appetite easier.
How much time to sleep?
A good night sleep should last about 7 – 8 hours, but the afternoon nap can't be too long, otherwise it will disturb the daily rhythm of rest and wake, and it will cause that we will be turning from one side to the other for a few hours at night... It's best to sleep for about 10 – 30 minutes during the day. A symbolic quarter will let you regenerate the nervous system, relax and rest, but it will not include the deep phase of sleep yet.