Power Napping: Magic to better health
While small children typically take naps in the afternoon, our culture generally frowns upon mid-day sleep; however, even in those who get enough sleep (but particularly in those who don't), many people experience a natural increase in drowsiness in the afternoon, about 8 hours after waking.
And research shows that you can make yourself more alert, reduce stress, and improve cognitive functioning with a nap. Mid-day sleep, or a 'power nap', means more patience, less stress, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency, and better health. Here's what you need to know about the benefits of sleep and how a power nap can help you!
Some of the most well-known businesses and organizations out there - think Google, Nike, NASA - have realized that napping can help boost productivity. That's why many are investing in nap pods and transforming conference spaces into sleep rooms. "The idea that napping is only for preschoolers is simply not true," says Raj Dasgupta MD, a professor of pulmonary and sleep medicine at the University of Southern California.
In actuality, power naps offers a myriad of health benefits, from helping to relieve stress to increasing alertness. But how, exactly, should you go about adding power naps to your daily schedule? Check out our guide to power naps, below, to find out how to you can successfully catch a bit more shut-eye.
A good nap allows for the recovery of brain function, memory consolidation, the ridding of toxins that build up throughout the day, and a burst of energy, says Camilo A. Ruiz, DO, medical director at Choice Physicians Sleep Center in South Florida.
To perfect the power nap, you have to perfect your timing. An often-cited 1995 study by NASA found that a 26-minute nap was the "sweet spot" for a nap, improving alertness by 54 percent and performance by 34 percent.
However, experts tend to agree that anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes is enough to reap benefits without leaving you feeling groggy when waking up. And don't forget to set an alarm so you don't go beyond that window.
Here's why a nap's length matters: Sleep happens in cycles. A normal cycle starts with lighter stages of sleep called non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and eventually hits a much deeper stage of sleep called REM sleep.