Today is another one of those random, obscure holidays that have somehow sprung into existence (National Corndog Day, anyone?), but at least it has a case for existing — National Napping Day is always held the Monday after Daylight Saving Time, when people are, understandably, often at their sleepiest and crankiest.
In honor of the holiday, here’s a quick cheat sheet on the weird, random, scientific and incredible things we know about naps.
1. Naps Can Reduce Stress
...and have a whole bunch of other benefits, such as improving brain power, memory, focus and the immune system, as well as reducing blood pressure. Some research even suggests that a 30-minute nap can reduce the negative impacts of a poor night’s sleep.
2. Nap Rooms Are A Hot Trend on College Campuses
At some schools, napping is no joke. Hence, why so many universities have installed “nap rooms,” which are places for students to catch a few quick ZZZ’s in-between classes or study sessions.
3. Drinking Coffee Right Before A Nap Really Does Work
Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Caffeine blocks adenosine, a chemical that causes drowsiness, and often takes 20-30 minutes to kick in. Therefore, nappers who plan their coffee/nap schedule correctly can wake up feeling extra refreshed and rejuvenated.
4. Siestas Aren’t As Popular As They Used to Be
Afternoon siestas were a major part of Spanish culture for hundreds of years. But a declining economy has made them less prominent in large cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, while some small villages have managed to keep the tradition alive.
5. Thomas Edison Loved to Nap...
...so much so that he even kept cots all throughout his laboratory. But he wasn’t the only genius who recognized the importance of quick snoozing. Winston Churchill and Nikolas Tesla both included naps as part of their daily routines.
6. And Several Presidents Loved to Nap Too
Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy are all among the Commander-in-Chiefs who insisted on having it be part of their schedules.
7. Old Dogs Take More Naps Than Younger Dogs
There isn’t a lot of research on canines and their sleeping habits, but one of the studies that does exist suggests that older pups are more likely to take naps than the younger ones. Also: Dogs who get fed more are more likely to take longer (but fewer) naps.
8. People Are Discouraged From Napping on the New York City Subway
To prevent theft and other crimes, the NYPD recently announced that its officers will start waking up sleeping passengers, much to the chagrin of tired commuters. So: When is it appropriate to wake people up on the subway?
9. Athletes Who Nap Have An Advantage Over Those Who Don’t
More and more elite athletes are waking up to sleep as part of their training, and that includes carving out time for naps. American cyclist Ted King, who competed twice in the Tour de France, said that while training he would try to nap for 30 to 60 minutes every other day.
10. Toddlers Need to Sleep Between 12 and 14 Hours A Day
Meaning, naptime is critical for a healthy toddler’s growth and development.
11. Some People Have Ditched Conventional Sleeping for All-Day Naps
These people are called polyphasic sleepers, which means they’ve abandoned the traditional eight-hour sleep schedule for precisely timed naps throughout the day. This method of sleeping, they say, condenses the sleep cycle and allows them more time to stay awake.
12. Scientists Are (Still) Trying to Understanding Nap Dreams
One study, for example, found that dreams which occur during REM naps are more intense and emotional than dreams that occur during non-REM naps, which are more mundane. Why, exactly? Researchers aren’t sure.
Naps, just another of nature's great gifts.