HEALTHY LIVING
05/10/2016 04:19 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2016

Daily Napping Could Help Save Your Life

Napping improves alertness, mood and performance. But what if daily napping could help save your life? Research shows that midday sleep is associated with lower 24-hour blood pressure and supports healthy lifestyles. Plus, history's got a host of famous nap lovers, from Einstein to Edison! So, why do we think napping is only for kids, the elderly and the sick?

One possible reason is that our modern society carries a stigma that napping is for lazy people. After all, a busy schedule may mean that you are highly successful -- conversely, a break in the day for a nap could be seen as weakness. But, I dare you to try napping regularly for 15-20 minutes at a time and notice the inspiration, productivity and alertness!

Here are 3 types of naps that you could consider:

  1. Emergency napping -- when you are in a situation where it is a danger to your life not to, such as driving or working with dangerous machinery. Don't try to push a little longer to get home. Pull off the road and get to a safe area to take a short nap. If you are falling asleep at the office, don't just write one more email -- stop and take a power nap. (Here are some ideas on how to do so at your office!)

  • Planned napping -- when you know ahead of time that you'll need to or want to be awake later one night, or if you've got a planned daytime activity that demands your highest functioning. This type of occasional napping is done without necessarily feeling sleepy.
  • Habitual or daily napping -- when you nap pretty much every day at around the same time. Most adults do this after lunch.
  • If napping is done at the right time for a short period of time, it can also be helpful for insomnia. For those suffering from insomnia, the more exhausted you are the harder it is to fall asleep and stay asleep. Napping can relieve states of chronic exhaustion caused by insomnia and other sleep disorders. In addition to napping, approaching your particular insomnia depending on the time of the night you are waking up, could also help you sleep better.

    The National Sleep Foundation recommends looking at napping as a mini-vacation within each day. The perfect time for one is between 12pm and 3pm for about 15-20 minutes. Put a timer on for 30 minutes so you can relax and not worry that you might be oversleeping.

    In Chinese medicine, it is thought that even the act of laying flat for 30 minutes in the middle of the day can be beneficial. So if you think you can't nap, simply rest. One day you may be surprised to notice your body relaxing enough to actually doze off for a few minutes!

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