VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Sore feet, aching limbs, and the mid-afternoon slump are all enemies of the ambitious Christmas shopper. There is a proven cure, though: the afternoon nap!

Naps are even trendy these days, with siesta services and nap bars popping up in places like Paris. But of course, you can do it yourself for free.

Dr. Stanley Coren is a psychologist and sleep expert at UBC who says the afternoon nap can even improve your health. “We’re much less likely to have heart problems and will show lower stress levels.”

He adds evolution has hardwired us for the afternoon snooze:

“People very often tend to feel sleepy in the mid-afternoon, say one or two o’clock, and they’re apt to say it’s because they had a big lunch. But the science has shown we are really programmed for that ‘wind down’ time because we can give you the exact same food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — or no food at all — and you will still get sleepy at that particular time.”

Coren tells us given our sleep-deprived lifestyle, we could highly benefit from some afternoon shut-eye.

“We psychologists tend to say that sleep deprivation makes you clumsy, stupid and dead,” he chuckles. “You don’t think as clearly, your short-term memory is not as clear and you become less attentive; you tend to miss things.”

To get the full benefits, Coren says you need more than just a cat nap. “The optimal length is an hour.”

“If you can’t do an hour, try for a half hour,” he adds. “The problem is you don’t want to break the nap at around 45 minutes because that’s the deepest stage of sleep. If you’ve actually fallen asleep and you awaken from that, you are going to have a good 15 to 20 minutes where your brain won’t be at it’s optimal.”

So if you feel run off your feet during the holiday season, give yourself the gift of napping; you’ll feel better for it.