9 Reasons Why Taking A Nap Is A Good Idea

This article is no yawn.

Are you the type who needs their beauty rest? Do you fantasize about midday snoozes? How often do you power nap after a stressful situation? 

But is napping actually good for you? We decided to put the question to rest (pun intended) with a little research, and found that YES, they are. 

Sleep experts recommend taking short naps for 20 to 30 minutes in the late afternoon, and say habitual napping can help improve mental and physical health. 

Now, nappers, give yourselves a pat on the back because you are winning at life. 

Here's why:

1. Napping makes you smarter and improves memory.

Don't you wish there was a magic button to help you remember people's names, and generally improve your cognitive abilities?

Well, it's not magic and it's not a button, but it's almost as simple — It's a nap. 

Studies have shown that nappers sustain higher brain activity for a longer period than non-nappers, and that dreaming during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep boosts a person's ability to learn. 

Shorter naps can also be helpful to clear the mind, and improve memory by solidifying information.

"We are exposed to certain pieces of information, but if we get to sleep on it, the sleep seems to facilitate the transfer of information from the short-term memory bank into the more permanent memory bank," says Dr. Suresh Kotagal, a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic. 

Lesson learned: To be smart is to nap, and to nap is to be smart.  

2. Napping makes you more productive and alert.

It's no coincidence that influential companies like Google, Nike and The Huffington Post have nap rooms to encourage employees to take midday rests. 

HuffPost founder and president Arianna Huffington told TODAY, "Sleep makes us more productive, creative, less stressed and much healthier and happier.''

And science supports her assertions.  

1995 NASA study testing the benefits of napping for 747 pilots found that those who took naps had higher vigilance performance rates, quicker reaction times and were more alert than those pilots who did not nap. 

The same benefits of napping were found in a similar study of emergency department physicians and nurses who took planned naps.  

3. Napping improves academic performance.

To stay in school, stay in bed. 

Though there is no data specifically linking naps to higher academic performance, all the benefits of beauty rest (productivity, alertness, memory and cognitive improvement) can translate to better grades

That's because students who nap are more likely to pay attention in class and retain the information.  

Academic institutions like the University of California, Davis even provide students with plenty of napping space to encourage them to get their rest. 

4. Napping reduces stress and can generally improve your mood.

Stress is a killer. Seriously.

Luckily, napping helps reduce stress, which means it can indirectly save your life. 

That's right — nap for your life!

Researchers found that a power nap can facilitate cardiovascular recovery after experiencing a stressful event and that napping can reduce the stress hormone cortisol

When we don't feel stressed, tired, or fatigued, we are also more likely to have better interactions with friends, family and co-workers. This makes us feel better all around. 

5. Napping can increase your sex drive.

Researchers in a 2011 study found that a lack of sleep can decrease testosterone levels by 10 to 15 percent, which is pretty significant. 

And since many don't get the National Sleep Foundation's recommended seven to nine hours of sleep at night, it's good to nap during the day to keep your body rested and your hormone levels steady. 

It's also common for people to want to be intimate, but to feel too sleepy to do the deed. A 2007 National Sleep Foundation survey found that about one-third of women said they were too tired for sex. Luckily, napping helps your sex drive and gives you more stamina. 

6. Napping makes you more creative.

Do you like napping between painting sessions or practicing the guitar?

Being both a regular napper and a creative person is not necessarily coincidental.

That's because the right hemisphere of our brain — the hemisphere associated with creativity — is active when we nap. At least that's what Andrei Medvedev, Ph.D., found in a study monitoring the brain activity of 15 sleeping participants

A National Geographic article also points to a study led psychiatrist Sara Mednick, author of "Take a Nap! Change Your Life," that showed people who entered REM were better at solving creatively-oriented word problems.

7. Napping keeps you looking younger longer.

You don't look a day over 16! Oh, it's because you nap. 

Did you know beauty sleep is a real thing? Tiredness and fatigue can age you fast, which is why Mednick recommends incorporating naps into your daily routine. In her book, Mednick says napping can improve skin and tissue regeneration, keeping you looking younger longer. 

Now, that's something to nap about! 

8. Napping helps you manage your weight.

Do you feel hungry all the time? It could be because you're not getting enough rest. 

According to ScientificAmerican.com, people that suffer from a lack of sleep are more susceptible to weight gain. This is because less sleep leads to decreased levels of leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full, and increased levels of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry.

For people on a diet, organizations like Weight Watchers also recommend naps to get through unnecessary midday munchies. 

9. Napping can reduce dependence on drugs and alcohol.

In Mednick's book, she points to a Danish study that showed exhausted, sleep-deprived people are more likely to abuse caffeine, alcohol and drugs. 

"Saying yes to a nap will make you less likely to reach for stimulants to keep you awake and downers to get you to sleep, writes Mednick.