Afternoon sleep: 5 surprising benefits

afternoon sleep

Afternoon sleep is also called “beauty sleep”.  But characterizing it by benefits, it should be called, rather, health sleep or sleep for performance. After lunch, almost everyone would like at least some relaxation, a few moments of peace, deep and restful sleep.

Afternoon sleep does not have to be lasting. It depends on each person’s ability to program it as duration. There are people who plan to sleep 15-20 minutes, fall asleep immediately, regardless of conditions, and wake up exactly after the proposed interval, well disposed, relaxed, with restored strength. Regardless of age, specialists recommend an hour of rest during the day. This not only has beneficial effects on the psyche, but also gets rid of many health problems. Here are 5 reasons to sleep in the afternoon:

Improves memory

Sleep has already been shown to be vital for storing information accumulated during a day. But it has also been established that afternoon sleep can improve memory.

Dr. Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neurology at the University of California, Berkeley, and his team recruited 44 volunteers – 27 women and 17 men – for an experiment on afternoon sleep. Then the group was instructed to memorize 100 names and girls and then they were tested – they had to indicate which name corresponded to a certain girl.

Half of the subjects slept for about 90 minutes in the afternoon while the other half stayed awake. At the end of their sleep, both groups were given sets of names and faces. The difference between the performances of the two was significant – the group that rested in the afternoon had results 20% better than the members of the group who remained awake all this time.

Improves heart health

A 2007 study by Harvard University’s School of Public Health found that regular afternoon sleep can reduce the rate of death from heart disease by up to 37 percent. This statistic is comparable to the cardiovascular benefits of other activities – a healthy diet, lowering the amount of cholesterol swallowed and sports.

Napping after 3 p.m. can interfere with nighttime sleep. Individual factors, such as your need for sleep, your sleeping schedule, your age and your medication use, also can play a role in determining the best time of day to nap.

Improves performance

Study after study continues to demonstrate the strong effect that afternoon sleep has on cognitive performance – due to the fact that it improves information processing.

A study conducted by NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) showed that pilots who were allowed a short sleep (40-45 minutes) improved their flight performance by up to 34% and alertness by 100%. But, whether you are a pilot or not, you will enjoy improving performance and alertness in any field you work.

Adjusts weight gain

Lack of sleep can have a negative effect on the environment. You may not consume too many calories while resting, but there are a lot of studies that remind you of the positive effects of sleep.

According to research conducted in 2010 in Japan, which involved 35,000 adults, it was found that those who sleep 5-6 hours a night are twice as likely to become overweight compared to those who rest for 7-9 hours. Researchers believe that gaining extra pounds due to lack of sleep is a direct result of reduced levels of leptin – the hormone of satiety – and increased hunger hormone ghrelin.

Increase creativity

The journal Sleep published a study that showed that afternoon sleep can improve creative thinking. The only condition is that the sleep lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. Because such a demanding process as creative thinking requires a complete sleep cycle (all 5 stages of it).


Sleep remains another mystery to the world of science – from the correct sleeping posture to the reason why we sleep, there are still many explanations that studies must offer to fully understand all the secrets of this phenomenon.


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