In many tropical countries, napping in the afternoon is a well-established tradition and it’s totally normal for families to relax and take a little nap after lunch so they can wake up rested for the rest of the day. And why not? Besides the fact that eating usually leads to a short period of drowsiness, did you know that in our natural daily waking and sleep patterns, we all have peaks and drops of energy, and the two most intense drops occur in the middle of the night and...The middle of the afternoon! Well that explains it! But is it really necessary to take a nap, or should we avoid sleeping in the afternoon?
Why we should take naps
A nap can absolutely help you regain your energy and feel more rested. Moreover, we see the positive impacts of naps on our kids everyday when they are fussy and irritated before sleep but wake up in a good mood! It’s because sleep gives our body and mind time to recharge and it’s been proven that naps in the afternoon, regardless of age, helps us improve our mental and physical state in many different ways!
The benefits of taking a nap:
- Improves the mood
- Reduces stress
- Provides a natural energy boost
- Improves memory and concentration
- Increases alertness
- In the long term, can reduce risks of developing heart disease
- In the long term, can reduce the risks of weight gain
The evolution of naps in children
If we are beginning to understand the many benefits of napping as an adult, we’ve known for long how important naps are for our children, who have even greater needs for sleep than we do, although we may sometimes feel otherwise! Of course, every child is different, which will affect his own personal needs for sleep, but in general, here are the changes you’ll be to observe as he grows up:
- By the age of 3 months: you will notice that your baby will have a more regular sleep schedule and take his naps at around the same time every day.
- At the age of 4 months: most babies nap about 3 times a day: one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the early evening.
- Between 6 months and 1 year old: your baby will probably reduce his naps from 3 to 2, but they may become longer to compensate. You should know that because each baby has different needs for sleep, a baby can nap for 20 minutes or for 2 or even 3 hours and it’s totally normal.
- Between 2 and 3: it’s possible that your child will start skipping another nap, but most will keep at least one nap during the day, in the morning or the afternoon depending on their preference.
- Between 4 and 6: children may stop napping, but still need rest periods depending on their activity level and quality of sleep at night to relax and recharge.
Tips for getting a good rest during naps
- The best time during the day to take a nap is 12 hours after the middle of your nighttime sleep, so between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. for most people. It’s important not to nap too late so that it doesn’t affect your capacity to fall asleep at night.
- Short naps are perfectly adequate to recharge the body and mind. In fact, it’s recommended to take a nap that lasts between 10 and 40 minutes to avoid falling into a deep sleep that makes waking up a little unpleasant.
- Preferably, take your nap comfortably lying down. It’s possible to rest in a sitting position, but it’s not as comfortable, which may mean it will take you longer to fall asleep.
- Take a nap in a relaxing room with minimal to no noise and little light to maximize relaxation.