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Health Benefits of Power Napping

Health Benefits of Power Napping

Power napping is said to be the perfect recharge―one of the simplest and most effective ways of filling up on the energy reserves and boosting several functions of the body.
Rujuta Borkar
Did You Know?
It has been said that it is better to nap for 15 – 20 minutes in the afternoon, than sleep for an extra 20 minutes in the morning.

Power napping is the practice of napping for a short period of time (20 – 40 minutes), ideally in the afternoon. This practice is known to yield several health benefits, like increased productivity, reduction in stress levels, improved learning, better heart rate, and several more. So, how is power napping relevant to you? Maybe the following Workspirited excerpt might draw in a parallel.

There is that particular time at least once a day when you feel your mind shutting down, your eyes getting heavier, the computer screen getting blurry, and you slipping into a vacuum ... sleep attack, sleep attack! So, you force yourself upright, rush to the washroom, and splash cold water onto your face till your senses are back. You get a cup of coffee, and you go back to orienting yourself to work. Chances are that the sleep monster will come attacking sometime in the day again.

The Power of the Power Nap

Given the growing demands placed on us, and the fact that there's simply so much to do and such little time to do it, it is not surprising that most of us often compromise on the hours of sleep to get the work done. Human beings require 7 – 8 hours of deep sleep to recharge, without which our daily functions are seen to suffer, and a sleuth of other negative side effects are seen to erupt. But that hardly happens, and most of the time, people are horribly sleep deprived. To combat the same, people take in coffee mug after coffee mug, hoping for the sleep to leave and the productivity to come in. Though coffee wakes them up, it is only temporary; and the productivity does not necessarily increase either. This is because the ingredients stave off the symptoms; they do not cure the cause―so to say.

Here is where power napping is seen to help. Power napping, like we mentioned earlier, lends to a lot of advantages, that include but are not limited to, warding off sleep attacks. What are the other advantages of the power nap?

Reduced Stress Levels

Power napping leads to a significant reduction in stress levels, which automatically leads to less irritability and anger.

Increase in Productivity and Efficiency

As tiredness leaves, a person becomes more alert and awake, thus, leading to an increase in productivity and efficiency.

Better Learning and Improved Memory

A power nap erases the information overload, and makes more space for new information to be processed, hence, improving learning skills.

Good Heart Health

A power nap reduces the chances of developing heart conditions and heart diseases by reducing stress levels in the body.

Boost in Creativity

A rested mind is able to come up with better ideas, and goes beyond the obvious to explore a more creative side of the subject.

Motivation for Exercise

With the problem of accumulation of sleep being taken care of, one no longer avoids exercising on account of being tired and sleepy.

Increased Cognitive Functioning

People who undertake power naps are able to think faster and more efficiently, and carry forth cognitive activities, like solving puzzles better.

Ideal Duration and Time of Day

Our sleep consists of cycles―the first two are considered light, whereas by the 3rd and 4th cycle we enter what is known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, or really deep sleep. The trick is to not get into REM sleep, which comes roughly at about 60 – 90 minutes after sleeping. An ideal nap should last for 20 – 40 minutes. Some people take a nap of 10 minutes, and some may exceed the time to an hour―this depends on each person's needs.

Any time between the 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. window is considered ideal for napping. Napping after 4 p.m. should ideally be avoided as it interferes with the nighttime sleep pattern. A nap that exceeds 60 minutes leads you into REM sleep. When one wakes up from this deep sleep in 60 – 90 minutes, it leaves the sleep cycle incomplete, thus, increasing the risk of experiencing sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is characterized by a feeling of extreme grogginess, irritability, a decrease in motor dexterity, and could go on to affect the ability to perform physical and cognitive tasks―both simple and complex.

Other Tips to Follow

Unless one is already dozing off, falling asleep could take some time. The following are ways to aid this process.

☛ Use an eye mask to shut out the light. The brain takes longer to shut down if it is distracted by a light source. Moreover, the darkness stimulates melatonin, which is the sleep-inducing hormone.

☛ Some people concentrate on their breathing pattern or listen to soft, soothing music to help sleep faster.

☛ Set an alarm before you sleep so that you do not exceed your napping time.

☛ Be consistent in your timing to take a nap. If you think that the ideal time to take a nap is at 3 p.m. every afternoon, continue to follow the same timings every day.

☛ Try timing your nap to about 8 hours after waking up. This is considered an ideal time to recharge.

Though indulging in a power nap at work or otherwise is not an accepted norm in many parts of the world, people are now waking up to the many health benefits that power napping has to offer, because it acts as an important break at work. And it is due to this that several corporate and business houses have started having napping areas, given that it increases the efficiency and productivity of their employees. Maybe you can suggest the same to your bosses too.