A Guide To Great Power Naps

Is it sleepy time already?

Ah naps. For a long time, they have been considered as a sign of laziness, but today, naps have been proven to improve one's alertness, mood, creativity, and productivity. So put down that expresso or soda, because in this article, we'll be exploring the wonders of napping and how you can make the most out of your nap!

Why Should You Take A Nap?

Taking naps not only improves alertness and productivity, but it's also great for your health. Naps reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and excessive weight gain. Despite this fact, taking longer naps does not mean that you will gain more for yourself. Because everybody is different, the only way to go is to understand your own body and also to limit your nap time.

How Long Should You Nap?

Before you can decide how long your nap will be, you have to understand that when you're asleep, your brain's electrical activity goes through a five-phase cycle. One of these stages is REM, or rapid eye movement. In this phase, the sleeper can dream, and he/she benefits most from sleep. (An interesting fact: despite REM being so, the brain looks most awake at this stage)

Here's stage 1 and 2 of sleep. Taking a nap of 20 minutes will provide you with mostly stage 2 sleep, which helps boost alertness concentration, mood, and motor skills. To further enhance this, you can drink a cup of coffee before a nap, because caffeine requires 20-30 minutes to take effect, so you'll be more awake when you wake up.

On the other hand, naps of 45 minutes will not only provide you with all the benefits of stage 2 sleep, but it may also include REM sleep. This will improve your memory and creativity.

If you have work to do and cannot afford to sleep for a long time, bear in mind not to sleep for more than 45 minutes, because by doing so makes you drift into stage 3 and 4 sleep, which would be deep, slow-wave sleep. Waking up from this stage will result in grogginess, inertia, and disorientation. To make things worse, these effects can last for at least half an hour.

If you can afford to take a long nap, you can sleep for 90 to 120 minutes, which normally contains all of these stages, including REM and deep, slow-wave sleep, which helps recover lost hours of sleep, improve memory recall, and clear your mind. Sleeping for 90 minutes or more also reduces sleep intertia because you'll be waking up from REM sleep.

The time of day counts too! Taking longer naps in the morning gives you more REM sleep, while napping in the afternoon gives you more slow-wave sleep.

When Do I Nap?

Despite our tendency to take long hours of sleep at night, humans, like most mammals, have a separate sleepiness cycle. Our bodies are programmed to become especially sleepy during two times of the day, that being early in the morning from 2 to 4 AM, and in the afternoon from 1 to 3 PM.

To find out what your best time to nap is, you will first need to analyze your biological clock. If you're the type who can sleep at the early hours of 9 or 10 PM and wake up at the early hours of the morning, then your best time to nap would be about 1 or 1:30 PM. If you're a night owl, preferring to sleep after midnight, your ideal nap time would be later, at around 2 or 2:30 PM.

How Do I Nap?

A few tips on how you can take a better, more comfortable nap!
  1. Remember that your body temperature drops when you sleep, so have a blanket ready.
  2. Try to nap in the morning or after lunch. Sleeping in the late afternoon will leave you drowsy.
  3. Stay away from sugar or too much caffeine as it affects your ability to sleep.
  4. On the other hand, eating foods high in protein or calcium helps you fall asleep!
  5. Sleep in a dark environment. The darkness stimulates melatonin, a sleep hormone.
  6. Sleep in a quiet place! You can also try listening to some white noise.
  7. Lie down! It takes 50% longer to sleep sitting upright.
  8. Calm your body by taking slow, deep breaths. You can also try relaxing your muscles one group at a time.
  9. Don't do anything too stimulating for the brain before napping, such as using the computer or watching TV.
  10. Quiet your mind by counting sheep, imagining yourself being in a relaxing place, or repeating some words to yourself.
  11. And of course, use an alarm clock!

And that brings this article to a close. Hopefully, you've found this useful enough. Well now that I'm done, it's time for my nap.

Until next Wednesday!


ally. said...

WOW. So many things I didn't know. :O
Great post. Learned a lot from it. :D

Jill said...

Thanks, ally! I'm glad this post has proven to be useful!

Aida said...

*yawn* I think I'll go take a nap now.

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