How Even a Short Nap Helps When You’re Sick

Napping while studying while you're sick
Source: Wikimedia Commons

You’re sick. You woke up with a pounding headache and a sore throat. Your joints ache, and you wanted nothing more than to burrow back down into your comforter.

However, you had class or work to get to, so you valiantly managed to get up. You dragged your butt out of bed, dutifully put your day clothes on, and trooped out the door. Hopefully with something in your stomach.

So why on Earth would you take a nap?!

You might know that resting your joints will only make them ache more. You might know that your headache could come back at any time. I for sure know that your mouth will be dryer than the Sahara when you wake up, and taste terrible to boot.

But trust me.

Naps When You’re Sick

Man sick in bed
Source: Flickr

When you go to sleep, nonessential brain functions are switched off, and that extra power is put toward maintenance. It’s true what they say about your brain being like a computer. Sleeping allows memories to be defragged and committed to long-term storage, cells to be regenerated, and minor damage to be repaired.

Damage like tiredness.

Naps are similarly useful. Your brain actually does these repairs in waves known as REM cycles, each wave lasting 90 minutes. Interrupting yourself in the middle of one of these cycles can result in grogginess when you wake up, but going without sleep is even worse. It can result in impaired thinking, slower reaction times, and long-lasting health complications if it happens often enough.

As well as all that general stuff, one of the things that’s rebuilt when you sleep is your immune system. Thus, naps can help your body fight infection and keep the nasty feelings at bay, at least until you’re home.

90 minutes are best, but even 20 minute naps can do a world of good to negate some of these negative effects. Naps refresh you and give a burst of energy that, while not lasting very long, can get you through the last coupe hours of your day. Then, you only have a short commute home before you can flop face-first onto your bed and crash.

Just don’t actually crash. Cars are dangerous. Stay safe.