For most people, the famous “naps” are only for young children or older adults. However, although human beings are used to sleeping at night, normally between 6 and 8 hours a day, there are those for whom this rest is not enough, so they have the habit of taking one or more naps in the afternoon.
In addition, taking naps offers several benefits for healthy adults, such as: less fatigue, relaxation, heightened alertness, better performance, faster reaction time, sharper memory and better mood, according to experts from the Mayo Clinic.
According to the newspaper El Heraldo, in its health and wellness section, several specialists confirm that this lifestyle is indeed very healthy, but recommend not to exceed 30 minutes, since an excess in its duration can disturb night sleep.
But, could diet influence achieving a good rest? Just as there are certain foods that help achieve restful sleep during these few minutes, there are also some that are quite harmful if consumed before taking a long-awaited nap.
According to the San Carlos Clinical Hospital Health Education Foundation and the Spanish Bed Association (Asocama), siestas could help recover lost sleep and ensure a healthier rhythm of life, providing physical and mental benefits.
Benefits of napping
- Increases concentration. There are numerous studies that show that napping (even for six minutes) helps improve any task that involves remembering lists of words or objects.
- Prevents heart disease. Napping helps reduce stress and the risk of cardiovascular disease by 37%.
- Reduces blood pressure. A study from the Allegheny College of Pennsylvania (USA) carried out on 85 healthy university students has shown that those who take a daily nap of between 45 minutes and one hour after having endured a day of stress and psychological tension see a decrease in their blood pressure and their heart rate.
- Facilitates learning. A study by the University of Berkeley ensures that those who sleep a nap perform better in the afternoon and increase their learning capacity by ten percent.
- Stimulates creativity. A team of neurologists from Georgetown University has found that napping increases creativity or, at least, stimulates activity in the area of the brain (the right hemisphere) that is associated with this ability.
- Makes it easy to solve problems. Robert Stickgold, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has discovered that when subjects reach REM sleep (the phase of high brain activity in which we dream), it takes them less time to make different connections between ideas.
- Improves reflexes. A NASA study of 747 pilots showed that those who took a daily 26-minute nap made 34% fewer errors on the job and doubled their alertness levels.
- Improves mood. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, and mood. In addition, sleep fills the brain with serotonin, which provides a feeling of satisfaction and well-being.
Foods to avoid before nap
- Sweet: experts advise against consume sweets before taking a nap, since glucose spikes can impair the quality of sleep.
- Foods that are not so difficult to digest: a quality nap requires avoiding heavy digestions that can keep the person awake, so it is better to avoid foods that include irritating sauces.
- Caffeine: caffeine and theine increase the feeling of energy, alertness and wakefulness, which does not allow a good rest.
- diuretic foods: all those foods that make you go to the bathroom more often can be counterproductive before a nap, including some citrus fruits such as watermelon or melon.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a suppressant of the REM phase, therefore, the more you consume, the less deep your sleep will be. (REM sleep is the one that occurs approximately an hour and a half after falling asleep and which allows optimal awakening).