Vitality

Take A Nap To Counteract Impulsive Behavior, Ease Frustration

napping
Taking a nap can reduce frustration, stress, and impulsive behavior, according to a new study. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Here’s an argument for giving working adults “naptime” during the afternoon, similar to kindergarteners.

While taking a two- to three-hour nap will often leave you feeling groggy and lazy, naps have their positive health benefits for adults — and a new study finds that taking a nap could actually counteract impulsive behavior and frustration. The research out of the University of Michigan is published in Personality and Individual Differences.

The study authors reviewed 40 participants aged 18 to 50, all of whom had a consistent sleep schedule for three days before the test. They were given questionnaires that asked them about their sleepiness, mood, and impulsivity, as well as cognitive tasks; then they were assigned to either a 60-minute nap period or a no-nap period that involved watching a nature video. Afterward, they were asked to complete the questionnaire and tasks again.

The people who napped were more committed to solving the tasks than people who didn’t nap; they worked on them for longer than the non-nappers, who gave up much more quickly. Nappers also reported feeling less impulsive.

“Our results suggest that napping may be a beneficial intervention for individuals who may be required to remain awake for long periods of time by enhancing the ability to persevere through difficult or frustrating tasks,” Jennifer Goldschmied, a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology at U Michigan, said in the press release.

Previous research has shown that cat naps are beneficial for other health aspects. One recent study found that a short nap could reverse the ill effects of a poor night’s sleep, reduce stress, and boost the immune system. Especially in today’s day and age, when people aren’t getting enough sleep (sleeping for less than seven to eight hours per night is associated with chronic health problems like heart disease and obesity), taking 20- to 60-minute naps in the afternoon can help people improve their memory, reduce stress and fatigue, and boost their immune system.

“[E]motional control may become impaired from wakefulness that builds across the day, and… napping may be an effective countermeasure,” the authors write in the abstract.

Of course, there’s a happy balance when it comes to sleep. According to ASAPScience, sleeping less — or more — than seven to eight hours every day over the course of months or years could have detrimental effects on long-term health. So sticking to a sleep schedule and maintaining sleep hygiene is important to keep your health in top shape. Naps, of course, can help with this by balancing out the days you got little sleep the night before.

A few tips on getting better sleep includes removing any digital devices from your periphery up to an hour before you fall asleep; having a “routine” before bed that could involve something calming like stretching, deep breathing, or reading; and waking up at the same time every morning. Twenty- to 30-minute naps in the afternoon, meanwhile, can help reduce fatigue and boost your focus. This is why "naptime" shouldn't only be delegated to 5-year-olds; its benefits can be applied to anyone.

Source: Goldschmied J, Cheng P, Kemp K, Caccamo L, Roberts J, Deldin P. Napping to modulate frustration and impulsivity: A pilot study. Personality and Individual Differences. 2015.

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