Back in your high school days you may have slept for a few minutes in class or got scolded by your teacher for napping too often. Maybe you had good grades despite snoozing off in between lessons and started wondering whether there was a connection. Or maybe you just feel too tired during the day and can’t seem to keep your eyelids open.
Luckily, there’s a solution to your cognitive woes – power naps. And the surprising truth- they are good for you. Why do they give you power? Puns aside, let’s explore them below.
What is a Power Nap?
A power nap is a super short nap that lasts anywhere between 8 to 30 minutes.
It’s not like your afternoon siestas where you doze off for two or three hours. You can think of a power nap as sort of like a quick snack for your brain. Ask every successful people or entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that the reason behind their productivity and peak performance is power napping – it’s one of the habits for success which seems deceptively simply from first glance.
Benefits of Power Naps
Here are the following benefits of power naps for beginners and for those with more experience in the art of successful napping-
1. Boosts Mood And Alertness
If you’re having a bad day at work and want to hit the reset button, take a power nap. You’ll wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on anything that comes your way. According to Harvard Medical School, power naps provide you restorative sleep and help beat insomnia.
2. Improves Productivity
Your attention span improves when you power nap. This translates to heightened productivity and peak performance at work. In fact, even NASA did a study about this on subjects and proved it. If your job is to get more things done at the office and free up time for relaxation at the end of the day, get a power nap – no questions asked.
3. Improves Energy Levels
Power naps are an excellent choice prior to partaking in tasks that involve motor skills, like sketching a new piece, playing the piano, or working with your hands. Since power naps rejuvenate your way or clear out the toxins in your brain, it helps with your working memory and long-term recall too. You’ll find yourself making good decisions throughout the day and maintaining composure when things get tough.
4. Helps Get Slow Wave Sleep (SWS)
Slow Wave Sleep lasts for about 30 minutes and power naps fall under stage 2 sleep, giving you all the SWS you need. Slow Wave Sleep improves your decision-making skills, in case you didn’t know. And if you fit in the SWS phase in the afternoon, it gets a lot easier to drift off into REM Sleep at night.
5. Heightens Testosterone Levels
Whether you’re looking to improve your bedroom performance or get lean and shredded while packing on muscle, power naps help you boost your testosterone. Researchers have confirmed this by doing a study on testosterone levels in men who slept for four hours versus those who slept for 8 hours. Power napping triggers the release of your Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which is what you need to build muscle, get lean, and be your very physical best.
6. Lowers Stress Markers and Boosts Immunity
Napping has been shown to lower stress markers and give a pick-me-up to your endocrine health. Your norepinephrine levels go up with limited sleep and are responsible for the ‘fight-and-flight’ response and stressful feelings.
According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, when you take a power nap, your norepinephrine levels stay normal and don’t increase – which means you feel calm and a lot happier.
7. Napping Improves Reaction Time
In the elderly, power napping is known to improve reaction times and boost emotional health. And not just in the elderly, the benefits have been studied with medical staff, pilots, soldiers, and people who don’t get enough sleep. In fact, you can reverse a night of sleep deprivation by taking multiple power naps throughout the day.
8. Elevates Creativity
Here’s a secret- Da Vinci used to nap every four hours.
And he was really creative.
But we don’t have to be Da Vinci to power nap. Power naps have been shown to boost creativity since they improve your motor skills and restore mental function. According to a study by researchers at the Neuroscience Meeting in New Orleans back in 2012, a trail on 15 individuals revealed that participants who napped showed an increase in right-brain activity which is responsible for creativity and imaginative thinking.
How to Power Nap to Reap the Benefits?
You can reap the benefits of power naps by doing them right. Here’s your guide to power napping to experience the benefits:
1. Stick to 30 Minutes Tops
Your entire sleep cycle is divided into 5 stages – Stage 1 and 2 being dedicated to Slow Wave Sleep and Stage 3 to 5 transitioning into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) which is when you start dreaming. We’re concerned with stage 1 and 2 since that’s the spectrum where power napping lies. Also, if you go beyond the 30-minute mark you risk readying for REM and if you’re interrupted at this stage, you’ll wake up feeling groggy and not well-rested.
The effective method is to keep your power nap length to no more than 30 minutes for reaping the benefits.
2. Turn Off the Lights
Invest in a sleep mask, some blindfolds or curtains for your room, and make sure there are no interruptions when you’re preparing to drift off and make the most of your power nap duration. If you can’t nap for 20 to 30 minutes straight, split it up into 6 or 10-minute chunks throughout the day.
3. Nap Between 1 pm to 3 pm
This is the time we’re groggy or hit an afternoon slump, making it the perfect time to power nap. Your ideal power nap time should be between 1 pm to 3 pm. Why? Because our Circadian Rhythm says so based on our biological design.
4. Don’t Nap 3 Hours Before Your Bedtime
Because this will throw your sleep schedule in disarray and leave you feeling sleep deprived, tired, and cranky the next day. If you do nap, make sure to fit it in way before the 3-hour mark before bedtime – even if you miss the 1 pm to 3 pm window.
5. Use an Alarm or a Timer
If there’s nobody to wake you up, set a timer. It helps and we’re sure of that.
6. Use White Noise or Sleep Music
Get a nice pair of noise-cancelling headphones and play white noise or sleep music tracks with it. This will help create a power napping environment and if your home is too noisy, get a pair of earplugs and ask someone to wake you up after the 30-minute mark (if that person is reliable).
There are also sleep apps available for the Android and iOS these days which let you hit a button and let you snooze off – waking you up as soon as your nap is over.
Power naps aren’t a relatively new concept but people do have questions. Here are some of the most common ones asked:
1. Is It Good for Your Health to Take Power Nap Daily?
Yes, of course. Power naps have been shown to improve your cardiovascular health, mood, and memory, and helps regulate your emotions. They lower stress markers associated with your norepinephrine levels and are good for your endocrine system basically.
2. Should Pregnant Women Take Power Naps?
Why not? Of course, they should. Either way, pregnant women don’t get a full night’s sleep due to discomfort, pains and a hectic sleep schedule. They can make up for it by fitting in multiple short power naps throughout the day to combat daytime grogginess.
3. Are Power Naps Beneficial for Children?
Yes, they are. Children enjoy improved creativity, academic performance, and a host of other health benefits when they schedule in a power nap. Maybe ask your teacher to let them take a nap the next time your child goes to class.
Power naps aren’t mystical or magical elements. They’ve been scientifically proven to work and there’s an entire community dedicated to studying and exploring this concept too. In fact, power naps fall under the hood of polyphasic sleeping and geniuses from the Renaissance period were masters of this sleeping method.
Well, the good news is – now you know what it is and how to make it work for you. Keep in mind that every person is unique which means your power nap timings or environment will differ. The key takeaway is to adapt it in a day that it works for you.
Let us know how that goes and what difficulties you face in your naptime routines by dropping us a note.