It is already May, the last month of spring. It is the month where spring flowers bloom massively. However, May is also known as the ‘’Better Sleep Month’’, according to the Better Sleep Council. The purpose of the Better Sleep Month is to raise awareness about sleeping better and the benefits of sleep. Students are familiar with sleep deprivation, for example when they are pulling an all-nighter or cramming for an exam. The first thing students do to catch up on sleep, is napping. Napping is a great way to restore wakefulness and promote performance and learning (1). That is why you should nap in case of sleep deprivation.
Sleep is important for good cognitive functioning in adolescents. It plays an important part in stabilising or enhancing memory for newly learned information (2). When you tackle sleep deprivation with napping, many things will improve (2). Napping benefits long-term memory formation, which is of course important for students (3). Also, napping is a tool many individuals use, because it improves daytime functioning. Daytime naps are sometimes even as effective as nocturnal sleep in facilitating these memory processes. Naps also improve your emotion regulation, procedural skills and attention. Moreover, creativity and productivity improve after a good nap (3).
However, napping also has its downsides. Napping can cause sleep inertia following the nap (4). Sleep inertia is the brief period of reduced alertness and impaired cognitive performance you can experience after waking (4). Also, nap time and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) may be associated with each other. Now these findings may be surprising, but it is not as bad as you think. These negative effects only occur when you take a nap longer than 30 minutes. Short naps are actually associated with a lower incidence of CVD (5). The beneficial effect of naps occurs when you take naps less than 30 minutes in duration. On top of that, napping has a protective effect in younger people (5).
In conclusion, naps are not that bad after all. So, when you pull an all-nighter again, do not forget to nap! However, keep in mind that your naps should be shorter than 30 minutes if you want to experience all the benefits. Apart from napping, getting enough sleep is even better. There are many ways to deal with sleep problems, even with help of applications on your phone. So, having read that getting enough sleep is important, what better month to start sleeping well than May? After all, it is the ‘Better Sleep Month’.
 Dhand, R. & Sohal, H. Good sleep, bad sleep! The role of daytime naps in healthy adults. Curr Opin Pulm Med 12, 379-382 (2006).
 Lim, J., et al.Assessing the benefits of napping and short rest breaks on processing speed in sleep-restricted adolescents. J Sleep Res 26, 219-226 (2017).
 Mcdevitt, E.A., et al.The impact of frequent napping and nap practice on sleep-dependent memory in humans. Sci Rep 8, 15053 (2018)
 .Payne, J.D., et al.Napping and the selective consolidation of negative aspects of scenes. Emotion 15, 176-186 (2015).
 Yamada, T., et al.Daytime Napping and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality: A Prospective Study and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis. Sleep 38, 1945-1953 (2015).