The Importance of the Cat Nap

Ah, sleep…There’s nothing quite like cozying up under the covers for some shuteye after a long day. But the truth is, you should be seeking slumber during the daytime as well. Are you taking advantage of a cat nap or two during the day? If not, you’re seriously missing out. Not only is napping a great way to rejuvenate, it’s key to a healthy life style, and incredibly beneficial for the body and mind.

Power Naps are Key to Active Adult Living

Kids may not like it, but adults have come to appreciate the value of the cat nap. Europeans have been longtime fans of siestas and now big tech companies like Google have installed sleep pods at their offices. Golden Agers have a lot to gain from them too, with a recent study of 3,000 adults age 65 and older showing those who napped after lunch for 30 to 90 minutes achieved better overall cognitive function than those who stayed awake. One of the greatest healthy living tips for active adults is to take a nap at least a few days per week.

Napping improves alertness and energy.

If you find yourself feeling groggy or sluggish at various points during the day, the National Sleep Foundation says a cat nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help. In fact, NASA even instituted a nap program after research found a 26-minute nap enhanced overall alertness by 54 percent. When you’re an older adult, napping is especially important to a healthy life style because stress, hormonal changes and a weakened immune system can affect your ability to sleep at night. Short naps can help prevent burnout and serious health issues.

Naps boost mental acuity and learning capacity.

Do you often find yourself struggling to remember names, dates or even where you last put your keys? Sure, it happens to everyone at every age, but the less sleep you get, the more it tends to happen. With sufficient snoozing, the brain’s ability to retain information and learn increases. Taking a midday nap can also help with the consolidation of memory and efficient recall of accurate information.

A regular cat nap can decrease your risk of heart disease.

Active adult living requires a strong heart, and a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that napping may improve your heart function. After controlling for lifestyle factors, researchers found that participants age 20 to 86 who napped three times a week for 30 minutes had a lower coronary death rate than those who never napped.

Naps lower blood pressure.

If you’re like most older adults, you’re always looking for healthy living tips to help reduce your blood pressure. One study found that midday sleepers age 61 or older had a 5 percent lower average 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure compared to those who didn’t nap at midday. It may seem minor, but even a small decrease can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by up to 1 percent.

When’s the Best Time to Take a Cat Nap

When it comes to active adult living, napping during the after-lunch plunge in alertness gives you enough time to build up your sleep drive over the remainder of the day. If you’re catching up on missed slumber or preparing for a late-night ahead, a 90-minute cat nap completes a full sleep cycle and helps you wake up feeling refreshed. Otherwise, shoot for a 20-minute nap, which will get you back on your feet quickly. Sweet dreams!