According to the November 2009 issue of the Harvard Health Letter, new research is showing that a daytime nap may have health benefits without interfering with nighttime sleep.

Naps, of course, are an antidote to daytime sleepiness, which can tug at the eyelids for a variety of reasons. It’s common to have a little “hump” of mid-afternoon sleepiness, something that a nap can smooth out nicely. And while some people worry about napping more as they get older, new research suggests adding daytime sleep to your schedule as a way to make up for the normal, age-related decay in the quality of nighttime sleep.

Lately, researchers have shown that sleep improves learning, memory, and creative thinking. In many cases, the edifying sleep has been a nap. These findings argue for employer policies that might tolerate, even encourage, napping.

The Harvard Health Letter offers some tips for napping:
  • Keep it short. A 20- to 30-minute nap may be ideal. Even just napping for a few minutes has benefits. Longer naps can lead to grogginess.
  • Find a dark, quiet, cool place. Reducing light and noise helps most people get to sleep faster. Cool temperatures are helpful, too.
  • Plan on it. Waiting till sleepiness gets so bad that you have to take a nap can be dangerous if you’re driving. A regular nap time may also help you get to sleep faster and wake up quicker.
  • Don’t feel guilty! A nap can make you more productive at work and at home.