The Amazing Benefits of Power Napping
Research shows that power naps “reboot” the brain for better performance. From stress relief to mood elevation, there are numerous benefits of power napping that could contribute to your wellbeing.1 A power nap is 10-20 minutes. Sleeping for any longer makes you feel groggy and drowsy when you wake up.
The National Napping Day, celebrated annually in March, encourages everyone to nap, and make up the hour of sleep lost due to Daylight Savings Time.
There are three types of naps:
- Habitual nap - Practiced at a set time daily: napping after having lunch every day without fail.
- Planned nap – A nap to keep you awake for longer. The technique is mostly used to avoid feeling tired earlier.
- Emergency nap - Napping when you feel tired and need a break from what you were doing.
The body naturally gets tired after around 8 hours after waking, but it’s possible to include power naps in our daily routine to combat tiredness. Here are a few amazing benefits of power napping.
Boosts energy and restores alertness
A nap improves productivity, alertness, and reaction times. A study carried out by NASA revealed that pilots performed better after a 25 minutes nap.2 In a different study, involving 49 nurses and physicians in the ER working 3 night shifts consecutively, discovered that the group was able to perform more effectively after taking a power nap.1
A power nap not only boosts energy, but keeps it high for an extended amount of time. Power naps are thought to add to your performance more than energy drinks and caffeine. Consider using a power nap on the job to prevent regular performance lapses (with your boss’s permission, of course).
Stress relief and better immunity
Sleep deprivation is linked to increased stress levels and a suppressed immune system. Brice Faraut, a sleep researcher, says naps may countermeasure sleep debt. He discovered that the body releases norepinephrine when sleep is totally restricted, which is usually released when the body is stressed.3 Lack of sleep also leads to a drop of interleukin-6 levels, a molecule that regulates immunity.2 However, if you experience frequent sleepiness, you should seek medical advice; you could be suffering from a sleep disorder.
Testosterone occurs naturally in both men and women. Men produce around 8 times more testosterone compared to women. Testosterone increases bone density and muscle mass, and research shows that the hormone is at its peak in the morning. Time does not affect the levels of testosterone - the quality of sleep does.1
While napping, you achieve the slow wave sleep cycle where the body achieves its ability to perform natural functions, including production of testosterone. Naps taken in the afternoon are more likely to work than those taken in the morning.
One study shows that one of the major benefits of power napping is the boosting of your mood. The feel good effect improves cognitive and mental health.2 If you feel agitated or frustrated, a 20 minutes nap could be all you need to jumpstart the happy feeling.
Making you smarter
Basically, enough sleep helps older adults to access and retain new information. According to scientist, sleep is crucial in consolidating memories. Regardless of age, the right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for creativity and benefits from some rest. This could explain why power naps improve learning capacity and memory.
Improves heart health
New research also indicates that a siesta could reduce the risk of heart disease. Heart disease related death rates are much lower in Latin American and Mediterranean countries where midday naps are cultural.1 A midday siesta decreases blood pressure, preventing damage caused by high blood pressure to the heart and arteries.2
Stay looking young
At some point, you may feel you look worn out and dull. Napping helps your body to relax, helping you attain your best look. Collagen, responsible for healthy and young skin, is produced while you are at rest.1 Power napping has been linked to tissue and cell repair that gives you a rejuvenated and fresh look.
How to take proper power naps
You can only attain the benefits of power napping when you do it right. Remember, a power nap is not intended to drive you into a deep sleep; therefore, setting an alarm will help you track your time. For starters, you have consistent problems falling into the routine, but it will easier with time. Here are important tips for proper power napping:
- Create a napping mindset - Think that a nap will enhance your productivity and will help you feel alert after waking up.
- Good napping environment - Find a comfortable bed or sofa in a quiet, dark room to prevent disturbance.
- Nap after lunch – Take a nap in the evening. This increases the likelihood of extended sleep. Sleep for a maximum of 30 minutes to avoid sleep inertia, which will make you less productive.
- Eat sleep enhancing food – Consume foods rich in potassium, tryptophan, and magnesium; these will improve power napping. Avoid sugars with high levels of fat, acid, and sugar.3
- Get comfortable – It is possible to feel cozy on your work chair or on your desk. If you are wearing anything constrictive or tight, taking it off will help.
While napping has been closely associated with laziness and lack of ambition, there is a need to educate the public on the overwhelming benefits of power napping. Napping benefits are not limited to children, the elderly, and the infirm. Some modern companies have implemented sleep-on-the-job solutions after discovering the positive impact naps have on employees. Remember, consistent sufficient sleep is needed for a healthy lifestyle.