Naps may improve frustration tolerance

By Staff Writer • Published: November 17th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

We all know naps can be a great boost for our tired bodies. But what if naps could make our brains perform better on seemingly impossible tasks? A recent study has found that naps may significantly improve our ability to withstand frustration.

The small study, which appeared in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, looked at 40 people aged 18 to 50. After three nights of normal sleep, participants were given computer-based tests for frustration tolerance. They were assigned an impossible task and filled out surveys on sleepiness, mood and impulsivity while they performed the task.

The participants were randomly assigned to take an hour’s nap or to stay awake. After the nap, they were tested and surveyed again. The results found that before a nap, everyone spent about the same amount of time working on the unsolvable task. After a nap, participants spent significantly more time working on the task than they had before their nap. People who didn’t get a nap gave up sooner. While nappers rated their behavior as less impulsive, non-nappers reported feeling more impulsive.

While the study was small and only focused on a specific group of people, the results add valuable insight to other research on how naps can help us function better throughout the day. Another study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 20 to 30 minute nap in a quiet, dim place for short-term alertness that won’t leave you drowsy.

The benefits of a nap include restored alertness, enhanced performance, and precious relaxation time. So the next time you need to recharge your batteries, consider taking a short nap. It may make the rest of your day just a little bit smoother.