How Naps and Mindfulness help your brain

I’m a big fan of the afternoon nap. Heck, I’m even a fan of the morning nap, if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep. 

Given a choice I’d have a nap every day.

My hubby said the other day that he thinks humans are designed to sleep in the afternoon and maybe we are all so messed up because we DON’T.

Turns out he’s got a point: according to this article:

Better sleeping is known to provide lots of health benefits. These can include better heart function, hormonal maintenance and cell repair as well as boosting memory and improving cognitive function. Basically, sleeping gives your body a chance to deal with everything that happened during the day, repair itself, and reset for tomorrow.

Apparently, 

Naps can even have a physical benefit. In one study of 23,681 Greek men over six years, the participants who napped three times a week had a 37% lower risk of dying from heart disease. Not to mention a host of other positive outcomes that might occur from regular napping:
Sleep experts have found that daytime naps can improve many things: increase alertness, boost creativity, reduce stress, improve perception, stamina, motor skills, and accuracy, enhance your sex life, aid in weight loss, reduce the risk of heart attack, brighten your mood and boost memory.

And now, wait for it, there is even science emerging to show that our brains prune unused synaptic connections while we sleep.

Which suggests two things to me:

  1. Naps are good! Or if pressed a bit of time in savasana will probably suffice.
  2. Be mindful of what goes through your mind. The more you think about something, the stronger those synaptic connections get. If you suffer from anxiety, for example, you might investigate tools to help you cut those thoughts off - though blocking is a good one. Over time, think less anxious thoughts will lead to thinking less anxious thoughts because you’ve pruned back those synapses. Win! 

Bring on the catnaps! 

PS community yoga classes are on this weekend - join us if you can.