When you are feeling tired and exhausted during the middle of the day, a power nap is something that could refresh you in a short amount of time. Whether you are in the office, at work or even studying at school, a power nap will recharge your energy to face the day. Coffee may be the quickest and most common way to re-energize your mind, but it will most likely damage your health in the long run. Power napping has been proven to create the same effects and more.
Power napping refers to short amount of sleep before entering one’s deep sleep phase. The basis of power napping mainly refers to one’s sleep cycles. Scientist have found out that people do not go to sleep in one continuous process. Rather, the sleeping alternates between going into deep sleep and shallow sleep. Power naps should therefore be timed so as not to oversleep and wake up at the wrong moment, creating a feeling of grogginess rather than refreshed and rejuvenated.
According to scientists, 20 minutes’ nap are good for alertness and motor learning skills such typing and learning the piano. Naps of 30-60 minutes are ideal for decision-making skills such as memorizing vocabulary and recalling directions. People who are sleep for 60-90 minutes are making new connections to the brain and are able to solve creative problems.
Time of sleep also affects the effectiveness of a power nap. The recommended time should be from 1 to 3pm, but night owls are recommended to start sleeping from 5 to 6 pm. Power naps are ideal at this time because body temperature drops at this moment and sleep hormone melatonin rises at the same time. This is also the reason why night owls could get power naps at a later time to prepare for their early evening. Alternatively, you could also get some shut-eye an hour or two before an important event or demanding task.
It’s important to note that those who suffer from insomnia shouldn’t take naps. It could potentially decrease their sleep at night and end up worsening their condition.
Signs you should take a power nap:
- Productivity starts to decline
- Can’t process information as quickly as you could in the morning
- Regularly daydream of feel like there’s a “fog” you can’t work through
Benefits of Power Napping
Naps may have a negative reputation from before as it meant that people did not sleep enough the night before. That is not the case anymore, as napping is beneficial for a number of different reasons.
First, NASA has proven that astronauts who took naps had better performance times and alertness. Nurses and ER professionals were also able to prove that those who took naps had fewer performance lapses, less fatigue, less sleepiness and were able to insert IVs more quickly. Health wise, napping creates significant changes from improving heart health, preventing cell damage, boosts testosterone, relieves stress, boosts immune system and elevates mood.
Tips for Power Napping:
- Sleep in a cool, dark room. Melatonin, the hormones for sleep will not be secreted by the brain when it is daylights. For that reason, a dark room will make your brain think that it is already nighttime. Sleep is therefore easier to achieve, even when it is not nightfall yet. Another method is sleeping with an eye mask as it will block out all the light.
- Set your alarm. To make sure that you are sleeping the right amount, having an alarm (or a clock) could help with your power nap. It also ensures that you do not miss your window and wake up feeling groggy.
- Meditate. Alternatively, those of you who are having trouble sleeping could try meditating. Practicing this would give your body rest and produces slower brain waves which are similar to sleep.
- Stay away from coffee from 3pm. Caffeine can be the fastest way to make you up from a slump. Despite the effectiveness, drinking coffee at the wrong time could disrupt your sleeping schedule. Drinking coffee at certain times could create more disruption, which is why it would be better to stave off the coffee machine starting from 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
- ….but instead drink it before you take a power nap. But if coffee (or any other stimulant) is drunk before you sleep, it would double the effect of your power nap. In that way, you will wake up much more refreshed in a shorter amount of time.
- Take off extra layers. Body temperature cools down when you are sleeping. Mimic this condition by wearing less before you sleep. Taking out the layers that cover your body ensures that your core temperature will drop easier. As a result, you will sleep easier because of the cool air.
- Put your phone to silent. For easy and peaceful sleep, turning of your phone is going to be an effective tactic. Calls, texts, rings and anything of the sort can bother your sleeping process. It is highly likely that you might wake up at the wrong time and become groggy as a result of it.
- White noise. Rather than musical instruments and songs, white noise has been proven to be much more effective to help people sleep. The static sounds made by the machine helps to drown out the surrounding sounds, creating an ambiance of peace within the room. Peaceful sleep is attained more easily.