Whether you think you need daytime rest or not, picking up a nap habit—or continuing to make time for one—is a smart, healthy move. Consider the evidence: The Mayo Clinic says naps promote relaxation, reduced fatigue, better mood and alertness, and a sharper-working mind (better memory, less confusion, fewer mistakes). A 2008 British study found that compared to getting more nighttime sleep or guzzling caffeine, a mid-day nap was the best way to cope with the mid-afternoon slump.
According to the Harvard Health Letter, several studies have shown that people remember new information better when they take a nap shortly after learning it. And, most incredibly, a 2007 study of nearly 24,000 Greek adults in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who napped regularly had a 37 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease compared to people who didn’t nap.
Of course, napping isn’t right for everyone. If you’re prone to insomnia, naps that are too long or taken too late in the day can interfere with your ability to fall or stay asleep at night. Also, people with certain sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or narcolepsy, may feel more tired if they take a nap than if they don’t.
But for most, naps can make you feel sharper and happier. To get the most out of your rest, follow these tips.