Halfway through the day, do your eyelids become heavy and your mind sluggish? Well, you are not the only one. Most people, on most days, feel drained in the middle of the day. They seek to recharge their energy meter and reboot their brain, to get through the day. While coffee is one way to do that, power naps are the better way. Recent research has highlighted the health benefits of power naps and they are worth your attention!
We all love the bed, but most of us tend to avoid it during the day. I once suggested Shalini a 32-year-old, sleep-deprived new mom to nap during the day. Her reply came quick, ‘Sir, I just can’t sleep in the day, I wake up with a devil’s horn. It’s the worst mood and I feel irked at everything’.
I urged her to try power naps of 25 minutes each day and that worked like a magic pill. Studies found that power naps can not only improve your mood and relieve your stress but also enhance your cognitive performance, memory, and thinking capacity.
Also Read: Coffee Nap – Activate your superhuman brain
The power of a power nap
Power naps are like rebooting your brain when your system slows down or starts to hang. It closes all the unnecessary tabs in your mind and helps you set focus on things that are actually important. A good nap not only improves your productivity but also your well-being.
In fact, if we look closely into the lives of successful people, most of them redeemed the power of power naps. The likes of Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo Da Vinci were famous nappers.
Health benefits of a power nap
There is no doubt that most people of this generation are chronically sleep-deprived. Whether they are working on their assignments, deadlines, or just gawking their screens, people are trading their sleep for anything and everything. And the consequences are evident.
Just take a stroll down the street and you will see most people walking like zombies. With dark circles under their eyes, they are sluggish, irked, ill-tempered, aggressive, and energy-deprived. The root cause for all these is nothing but a bad night in bed!
That’s not it. Sleeplessness can cause serious damage too. From causing obesity and diabetes to being the leading cause of road accidents, it is a known monster. And even a thousand cups of coffee can’t fight it!
How much sleep do you ideally need?
I have spoken about this at length in many of my previous blogs too, but because sleep is such an important pillar of your health, I can repeat it a thousand times. For a healthy adult, 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, each night, is crucial. Not more, never less!
Children in their teens need about 9 to 10 hours of sleep. Newborns may sleep for 16 to 20 hours a day and toddlers for about 14 hours a day. The sleep requirements of a person vary according to different stages of life.
Health Benefits of Power nap
It washes away your leftover sleep
A study on the effects of power nap after restricted night sleep revealed that a short nap has a positive effect on alertness. It unclogs the mind and makes a person feel more active and energized. Some studies also claim that napping helps the brain clean up sleep-inducing toxins and replenishes the brain’s energy pockets.
Power naps are also very effective in improving your attention, focus, and memory. The quick reboot also helps the sleepy areas of your brain to recover. Quick naps also work great for well-rested people. As they can improve their reaction time, logical reasoning, and decision making.
It’s a quick Brain Booster
Research revealed that people who took power naps regularly reported better long-term memory and enhanced cognitive functions. Quick naps help activation of the hippocampus – the area of the brain that’s responsible for learning and memory!
A brisk nap works much like meditation. It restores the balance of your body, calms down your stress and anxiety, sparks up your brain, and boosts your creative juice. Studies also found that people who practice meditation and indulge in power naps enjoy better physiological and psychological health.
It helps your heart heal
Research shows that quick naps might just be the right medicine for your heart. A recent case study found that adults who took 1 or 2 naps per week, had a lower risk of heart diseases and strokes.
Another study claimed that people who took a nap regularly had a 37% lower risk of death from coronary heart disease. However, the duration and frequency of the naps are crucial.
It keeps your emotions balanced
Lack of sleep can mess up your brain in ways. However, an intervening nap can reverse the negative emotional reactivity to anger and fear while enhancing the happy feelings. It helps in processing your emotions and distances your mind from an emotional event.
Another study revealed that people who nap during the day are able to tolerate frustration significantly longer than non-nappers. It also quoted that waking from a 60-minute mid-day nap, people felt less impulsive and had greater tolerance for frustration.
Keeps you safe on the road
Power naps work like a life jacket for drivers. Drowsiness or sleepiness is one of the biggest challenges that drivers face on road. And it causes more than thousands of car crashes each year.
As more people are turning into road trippers, it became even more important to know the safety tips. Taking short breaks, drinking caffeine, and pulling over for a 20-minute nap can save lives!
Naptime for Shift workers
In a previous blog, I mentioned shift workers, a work schedule that falls outside 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. are at a higher risk of health problems. Because of a messed-up circadian rhythm, they are more prone to heart diseases and other chronic ails. Planned napping can help improve restfulness and alertness among them.
Types of Naps
The nap time differs as per the different requirements of the body.
Recovery Nap – Sleep deprivation is a common thing and it can leave you tired and burnt out. A recovery nap is a short nap of about 30 to 40 minutes the next day.
Prophylactic Nap – This type of nap is most suitable for shift workers. It’s a long nap during the day to compensate for the sleep loss in the night.
Appetitive Nap – Appetitive naps are short naps that help the body relax. They help improve your mood and energy level upon waking.
Fulfillment Nap – Fulfilment naps are for infants and toddlers. They can occur spontaneously in children of all ages.
Essential Nap – This nap is for sick days. Resting promotes healing and helps the body repair faster.
How long should your nap time be?
A quick power nap should be of at least 26 minutes and a max of 30 minutes. Less than 26 minutes, you won’t reap the benefits and more than 90 minutes would leave you groggy and irked.
The sleep cycle can be divided into four stages
Stage one – light rest where you are half awake half asleep
Stage two – real sleep kicks in. Breathing and heart rate are regular and the body drops.
Stage three – a state of deep rest and your breathing slows down.
Stage four – Your muscles are relaxed and you enter rapid eye movement sleep. REM begins after 90 minutes of sleep.
5 great tips to enjoy your power naps
- Choose a suitable time to schedule your nap. The less disturbed you get, the better you will feel!
- Avoid napping late in the evening.
- Ideally, a power nap should be between 20 to 30 minutes.
- Don’t forget to set your alarm. Oversleeping your nap time will have adverse effects.
- Drink a cup of coffee before your power nap. This will double up your energy levels.
Wrapping Up – Health Benefits of Power Nap
As Ayurveda says, fasting and resting are the best medicines. A little bit of resting in the middle of a hectic day will put you on the fifth gear to swoosh through the day. Power naps are probably one of the best remedies that have a ton of perks.
However, power naps aren’t for everybody. People with insomnia should avoid daytime napping as it may further make it harder for them to fall asleep. Also, while sleep deprivation is a problem, sleeping too much can be a bigger problem too. Oversleeping can cause grogginess, headache, decreased energy, mood changes, obesity, and other chronic diseases.