Power Nap to a Better Health
With work, school and other personal activities taking most of our waking time, it comes as no surprise why many of us are not getting enough sleep, especially as we grow older.
Whether you’re a teenager or an adult struggling with having at least 8 hours of sleep on a daily basis, then perhaps it’s time to consider adding power nap to your daily routine to make up for the lost hours of sleep and help improve your health.
What is a Power Nap?
A power nap is a quick sleep session that lasts normally between 10-30 minutes before it turns into a slow-wave sleep (SWS) or a deep sleep.
Its short duration is designed to supplement a regular sleep. Anything longer than that results to the napper to go through sleep inertia–an unpleasant sensation that leaves a person feel groggy and even more sleepy.
Power naps can relieve us from sleep deficit and give several health benefits that you would normally get from a full night’s sleep, including improved mental alertness, stamina and decrease stress.
Napping at different durations presents different health benefits. According to the Journal of Sleep Research, a short 6 min. nap is enough to significantly enhance declarative memory–a type of memory that is responsible for recalling facts and events.
Napping for 15 to 20 minutes provides a sudden boost of alertness and strengthens motor skills while preventing sleep inertia to sink, says Dr. Sara C. Mednick, author of Take a Nap! Change your Life.
Studies have shown that napping for more than 20 minutes will recharge your memory and improve creativity. A 30-60 minute nap can boost your decision-making process while 60-90 minute naps are crucial to creative problem-solving.
While napping for 30 minutes or more is a great idea to give your productivity a major boost it deserves, Dr. Mednick says you are likely to experience sleep inertia as it will take some time for you to recover before the rush of wakefulness improves.
Which is Better–Nap or Coffee?
When it comes to promoting alertness, memory retention, motor skills, and cognition, taking a power nap is better than a cup of coffee. Based on this study, caffeine might temporarily get you wired, but it can also impair memory performance so you’re likely to make more mistakes.
Practical Tips to Achieve an Awesome Nap
- Keep a consistent schedule for naps and make sure to stick to it. Doing it regularly may lower your stress hormones and the risk of cardiovascular diseases over time.
- There are no hard-and-fast rules as to the best time to nap but Dr. Mednick recommends doing it between 1 PM to 3 PM. This is usually the time when you probably had lunch and might feel that after-lunch drowsiness. Napping regularly will keep your body to adjust and pretty soon, you won’t need an alarm to wake you up. Napping earlier is still okay but you need to schedule it at least three hours before your usual sleep time so it won’t interrupt your normal schedule at night.
- Set an alarm for nap time for 30 minutes or less. Napping longer than that will make you feel sluggish when you wake up and will have a hard time sleeping at night.
- Unlike sleeping, power napping is something that doesn’t come naturally for some people. The key here is preparation. Make sure to get yourself in a relaxed mood. Find a relaxing place to relax, turn off the lights or wear an eye mask, wear earplugs so you won’t be distracted and practice meditation or other relaxation techniques to help your mind relax and ready for a quick snooze.
Now it’s your turn. Do you take a nap regularly? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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