The Secret To Power Napping
Counter to popular belief that napping makes you a lazy couch potato, research shows that power napping is more than beneficial to our health. Learn how to fight drowsiness, find the best way to take naps, where to take them, and how they are advantageous to our mental and emotional health.
Perhaps the last time you took a nap was when you had a nasty flu. You woke up, called in sick, filled your tummy with broth, and slept throughout the day, waking up to feel much better than you did that morning. This type of napping is quite different than the planned power-napping that revitalizes your brain.
Napping fall into three distinct categories:
- People that nap before they actually become tired take Planned Naps. These naps allow people to stay up later than their actual bedtime.
- Ever felt so sleepy in the middle of the day that you could hardly keep your eyes open to write your term paper? That type of drowsiness calls for Emergency Naps.
- You’ll find that some people use the technique of Habitual Naps, where they train their brain to take a nap at the same time each day.
Research from NASA shows that astronauts and pilots that took 26-minute naps displayed increased signs of performance by 34% and alertness by 100%. But be weary of napping for too long though, as sleep inertia can make one feel drowsier than before since you enter into a deeper level of sleep. That is because instead of just entering into the first and perhaps second stages of sleep where you begin to relax, longer naps allow people to fall into the third and fourth stages of sleep that are harder to wake out of.
Why You Should Nap
The benefits of napping outweigh the disadvantages. Here are six convincing reasons why you should seek some shut-eye during the day.
- According to the National Sleep Foundation, 20- to 30-minute naps restore alertness, reduces the frequency of errors or accidents, and enhances performance without making you feel spacey when you wake up.
- Napping combats exhaustion and relieves stress by flooding your brain with serotonin, the neurotransmitter that improves your mood.
- Napping decreases your risk of heart disease, stroke, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and other cardio vascular diseases. It also gives your body time to heal.
- Frequent napping aids in weight loss by decreasing your desire for sweets and increasing the production of growth hormones that reduce body fat.
- Just a few minutes of shut-eye allows your creative juices to start flowing, giving you the boost you need to come up with innovative and inspiring ideas.
- From Thomas Edison to Salvador Dali, you’d be surprised at how many inspirational people nap (and you wouldn’t call them lazy sloths).
You might think that napping at work would give your boss the wrong impression, but there are ways around the stigma. You work hard, so why not rest when you need it.
- Be consistent.At first it may be very difficult to shut your brain off, as brain chatter commonly inhibits napping. But a schedule will regulate your circadian rhythms. After time, you will notice that it becomes easier to just relax and take some time out for you.
- Set the right environment. If you can nap in your office, shut off the lights and your computer monitor. Consider buying a sound machine with white noise to drown out distractions. Keep a light blanket in your desk and use it to help regulate your body temperature. If you can’t nap in your office, try your car or an unused space in your building.
- Don’t hit snooze. You’ll be tempted to sleep just a bit longer, but avoid it. As soon as that alarm goes off, get up immediately. Turn on the lights. Do some jumping jacks. Engage in any activity that gets your blood pumping for 30 seconds. You’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to attack the second half of your day.
- Drink caffeine before you nap. Yes, you read that correctly. It takes caffeine about 40 minutes to take into effect, just enough time to get a power nap in. When you wake up, the caffeine will have hit your bloodstream. It’s the perfect combination to boost your energy levels.
- Don’t nap too late. Most people begin to feel tired after lunch. This is a great time to nap, as it separates your work-day. Napping earlier in the day gives you enough energy to withstand the remaining hours without disrupting your nighttime rest.
Now that you know the value of napping, kick your feet up, take a load off, and shut your eyes for 20 minutes. You won’t regret it when you wake up.