We encourage our babies and toddlers to take naps. But adults? No, naps are for kids. Or are they? I remember laying down with my children many times to get them to take a nap only to “doze off” myself. Is that bad? Researchers don’t think so. In fact, they suggest that naps may prove beneficial for adults as well as children. In one interview, the person being interviewed went so far as to report naps as virtuous.
What makes naps so good? We all get that “lull” in our attention and concentration in the afternoon. That represents a low point in our ultradian rhythms. It points to a need to let our body rest and recover from the natural work it has done and is doing during the day. When we take a short nap and allow our mind and body to recover, it sharpens our mind and helps us solve problems more effectively. In fact, one study noted that those who took a short nap were better able to solve a math problem they struggled with prior to their nap. Naps also make us more productive; and they improve our mood.
There is a caveat though. The most productive naps are only 20-30 minutes long. These “short naps” allow us to rest and recover without suffering the sluggishness of trying to wake up from a deep sleep. Also, it is best to nap prior to 5pm so your nap does not interfere with your nighttime sleep schedule.
All this being said, a nap may be good for you and your family. It can help everyone stay in a better mood and so have greater patience with one another. It may help your family solve problems more easily, reduce conflict, or recover from conflict more quickly. And don’t forget that a nap can just make a person feel better. So why give all the good stuff to the kids? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, grumpy, or struggling to respond in a productive manner to the many things that arise in the day, take a nap. In fact, enjoy a family nap. It’s OK. It’s more than OK. It’s healthy for you and your family.