Fact or Fiction: You should take afternoon naps

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

An afternoon nap can improve your memory and blood pressure!

Have you ever gone back into the classroom after an energetic lunch break, only to find that you can barely keep your eyes open? Past research has shown that it’s in our nature to feel drowsy halfway through the day, even way back in ancient times. According to a recent study from Baylor University, we shouldn’t fight the urge to nap in the afternoon, because it’s completely beneficial to our health!

Researchers arrived at this conclusion by measuring the blood pressure of participants, giving them a word-based memory test, and then sending them on their way to take a warm afternoon nap.

After the group of volunteers woke up, the scientists measured their blood pressure once more and asked them to remember as many words as possible from the test. Young participants in the study were able to remember many more words after their cozy sleep and showed a reduction in blood pressure – which is an indicator of long-term health.

Why did these patterns occur? Well, researchers say that getting deep sleep is related to memory consolidation – the process of taking experiences and committing them to our long-term memory banks.

“The age-old idea is that sleep is a restorative process — it does good things for the body,” said Michael Scullin, a sleep psychologist at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Besides stronger memories, naps are also linked to healthier hearts, increased energy, improved focus, and a even better moods!

So, if you’re feeling a little lazy in the afternoon, don’t be ashamed; treat yourself to some shut-eye and see how much sharper and energetic you feel upon awakening!

Featured image courtesy of stampest on Flickr. Image of napping cowboy courtesy of Lorenia on Flickr.