Are naps more beneficial or harmful?

Admit it…you love your naps.  You come home from a long two classes and just need to take a nap before your next two.  But is that nap helping you get through the day?  Or actually making it harder for you?

This article from WedMD actually says napping can be even better than drinking coffee for a boost in energy!  Apparently, caffeine is known to cut back memory performance, creating more mistakes.  So even though you will have more energy, you will not be as focused.  But also, napping for 20 minutes can make someone more awake and focused, and napping for 30 to 60 minutes helps with decision-making work, while napping for longer than that (60-90 minutes), helps make new connections in the brain once you are awake.  The only problem with napping more than 30 minutes is you will wake up and feel groggy 🙁

In 2006, a study was done where naps were looked at.  The scientists used a no-nap control and 5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes of sleep.  They used 24 people who did not normally nap but got a good night’s worth of sleep.  In the end, they decided the 10-minute nap was the best one because it did not leave a person feeling groggy when they woke up.

This power nap has it’s benefits.  One study by the University of Athens Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health said that people who do not nap ended up with a higher coronary mortality.  So power naps can be very good for the heart!  They can also help cognitive function, which makes sense because if you are tired you are not thinking straight.  Power naps also reduce stress and anxiety, which is perfect for a stressed out Penn State student!  Ever feel a weird food craving randomly?  A brief nap could solve that problem.  Naps can also help improve physical performance.  If you really want to go to the IM building after class but you think you’re too tired, take a power nap and then hit the gym!  You’ll be surprised to see how much better you feel.

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Although many people believe napping is bad, I feel from my studies napping has seemed to be a great idea.  I was thinking of an experiment that could be done here at Penn State.  I could get 10 students who nap and 10 who don’t and see how their grades, social life, and energy level are affected.  Then, I could take my research and create my conclusion.  Maybe an idea for next semester…

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Works Cited:

  1. http://www.hairybaby.com/i-love-naps
  2. http://indulgy.com/post/zDlDOczW2/i-love-naps
  3. http://draxe.com/power-nap/
  4. http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/the-secret-and-surprising-power-of-naps?page=2
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16796222

5 thoughts on “Are naps more beneficial or harmful?

  1. Jennifer Lee Wales

    I really enjoyed this post because I always feel a little bit guilty taking a nap. I feel like I could be doing something more productive with my and I absolutely HATE that feeling of being groggy. I’m definitely going to try taking a nap as short at ten minutes tomorrow, I never knew that could have any influence. I would have loved to see a paragraph on the negative side of napping because I assume there are some down falls.

  2. Caroline Maria Teti

    In high school, one of our health classes discussed this very topic. How do I remember this? Because I love naps! After school I would take a nap before getting any work done because I knew my brain was fried. These naps sometimes turned into 2-3 hours sleeps. I would feel horrible upon waking up, very groggy and nauseous. Once I started college, I learned it was more affective to take power naps. These types of naps honestly will make you feel recharged and ready for your next class or exam. One very common effect of oversleeping is headaches. The headaches are due to the disruption of “neurotransmitters of the brain.”

    Here are two other links that list different effects of oversleeping.
    http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15581/1/Oversleeping-Side-Effects.html
    http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/physical-side-effects-oversleeping

  3. cvp5306

    Like many of the comments above I too did not start napping until I came to Penn State. I believe that napping can be ok but if you are tired all the time then I believe that something is wrong. Napping in moderation may be ok but when napping all the time or every day of the week it may become harmful. I would look into that if you ever wanted to continue this study. I would also look at the types of sleep cycles you fall into during a nap period. That might be interesting as well. Overall, I really enjoyed your blog and liked you topic a lot.

  4. Alyssa Hope Cooper

    I am someone who never naps. For some reason, I can never fall asleep at any hour of the day besides at night and I don’t know why. I always try napping in between my classes but it never works. Yes, napping may be good for the brain and help with decision making, but I find it more better to get my work done in-between my classes than nap. I like to be more productive during the day so at night I don’t have to stay up until 2 in the morning doing homework. Also, for the experiment idea you suggested at the end, I think it would be better if you observed around 50 people, not 10. Therefore you have a more accurate result.

  5. Alana Marie D'agnese

    I did not start napping until I came to Penn State and it helps me tremendously. On Tuesdays I start at 8 am and don’t end until 3:45, so I need a nap to be able to get through my homework at night. I think napping is more effective than trying to power through the day and get all my work done so I can go to bed earlier. I find myself getting distracted or having to reread my work because I’m too tired to focus. I usually nap anywhere from a half hour, up to an hour and a half. Either way I wake up feeling groggy for a little but later in the night I have more energy . For your potential experiment, I think you should observe at least 500 students (half males, half females) to get more accurate results since this school is so big.

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