Napping is a great way to boost your daily energy level as well as your productivity. But some people claim that they feel groggy after napping instead. How is it possible?
Even though it seems like a pretty easy task to accomplish, there is a lot of scientific evidence that focuses on napping properly while taking the maximum benefits of this half-asleep state.
Sleeping specialists have discussed which length is the most beneficial and what are the best ways to fall asleep.
Before listing out the benefits and the major information you need to know about power naps, let’s explain how do they work and what do they trigger in our brain.
What Is a Power Nap?
A power nap is a short nap that often takes place at mid-afternoon after lunch. While most of the people tend to sleep for an hour or more when they nap during the day, scientists suggest that it’s way more efficient if you keep them short.
Researches in the sleep field have revealed that the most beneficial length of a nap is one of 20 minutes.
However, you would still benefit from other lengths, but science has discovered that different durations of naps bring different advantages.
How Does a Power Nap Work?
Power naps can be seen as minimal sleeping. But what makes these 20-minute naps so magical is the fact that you achieve a much greater sleep efficiency compared to your regular sleep.
How is that possible? Well, even if you’re not completely asleep while napping, your brain actually manages to restore your energy. As a result, after a proper power nap, you will feel refreshed without feeling groggy or having troubles waking up.
One study from 2008 proved that naps were more effective than caffeine in improving verbal memory, motor skills, and perceptual learning.
How Do Power Naps Differ From Sleep?
Our regular night sleep is actually divided into several stages. When we fall asleep we enter the “deep sleep” phase after which comes the stage of lighter sleep. Our body actually recovers during the first part of our sleep.
What happens is that when we power nap, we first enter the light sleep followed by a slightly deeper phase. The goal of this type of recovery is to stay in the stage between light and deep sleep. That’s why you shouldn’t oversleep while napping.
Power naps differ from regular sleep in its restorative efficiency and its ability to wake up more easily. This is possible because you don’t enter the deep sleep stage which tends to tie you to your bed in the morning. Also, the energy boost you feel after a nap is due to the sleep time quality gained during the light sleep phase.
The proof that napping works in refreshing our energy and body is that some sleep patterns rely only on power naps. The most known polyphasic sleep pattern that uses naps for recovering is the Uberman Sleep Pattern.
How Long Should a Power Nap Be?
The proper length of your power nap depends on what do you want to achieve it and, of course, how much time you have to nap. However, there is evidence of how long you should nap in order to feel rested.
Researches have shown that the ideal power nap is the one that lasts for 20-minutes. These are the most efficient ones when it comes to restoring our energy and alertness while waking up refreshed.
On the other hand, if you nap for just 10 minutes more than the “ideal” length, you will probably feel groggy and notice the benefits of the nap after another 30 minutes.
If you’re studying, then you might want to take 1-hour naps. Sleep experts have discovered that these types of naps improve our memory and cognitive skills. You might as well feel a bit groggy after it, but soon your brain will prove you that the nap actually helped in multiple ways.
A 90-minute nap is actually a complete sleeping cycle. This type of nap contains both light and deep stages of sleep. After sleeping for an hour and a half, you might feel that your creativity, performative and emotional memory is improved. Grogginess usually doesn’t occur after this one, but the problem is that it takes away a little too much time from our daily activities.
Pro Tip : Having a break during long and tiring drives to power nap might save your and other people’s life.
How To Power Nap At Work?
Taking a power nap at work might be a great idea if it can be implemented in your work environment. If you often experience the sudden drop in focus and effectiveness during work due to feeling tired, then maybe you should ask your boss to have a nap break.
The increased alertness will surely help you work better throughout the day. Actually, napping during work is normal in other countries. In China, napping during work is a worker’s right protected by Constitution. While in Italy, most of the shops and businesses close for the lunch break, leaving workers at least 2 hours to eat and nap after lunch.
Spain also has similar naps as in Italy, and they’re known as “siestas”. A type of biphasic sleep pattern that includes an afternoon nap is actually called after the Spanish napping hour.
However, not having your bed or couch to sleep on, you should be prepared in order to have a good nap. Buy a face mask, bring a small pillow, put it on your desk and if necessary put some earplugs too. Only make sure to wake up after those ideal 20-minutes.
How To Fall Asleep Quickly?
The trick to falling asleep quickly is to understand that you should relax your body first in order to calm your mind after which sleep comes easily. That’s actually opposed to waking up when your brain tells you that it’s time to get up, and then your body follows.
This is something you can learn and get used to with time. But for starters, you can fall asleep more quickly with the help of calming music. There are certain binaural sounds that are proven to help people fall asleep and benefit from the naps even more.
Also, if you prefer a more spiritual approach, you can try listening to online meditations that will work like magic! They will ensure that you both ease in and out of the relaxed state.
This is the best guided meditation we have tried so far. Thank us later!
Health Benefits of Power Naps
Finally, let’s talk about the benefits napping can bring us. Are they really that beneficial to a human body? Are they even healthy?
Let’s discover what power naps can help us with, apart from renewing our energy:
- They can reduce stress
- They can regulate blood pressure
- They improve heart health
- They can help prevent obesity
- They help us feel better
- They are important for effective learning in young children
- They improve memory and cognitive skills
- They increase alertness
- They boost creativity
- They improve performative and emotional memory
How To Master Power Naps
While for some people napping comes naturally and they can fall asleep easily without even trying, others, on the other hand, have troubles relaxing. That’s why we made this guide with science-based tips that will make your napping much easier!
So, here we go!
How To Power Nap Properly
1. Make Sure Your Stomach Is Not Empty
Feeling hungry while trying to fall asleep isn’t really a great idea. Try eating something light at least 30 minutes before you plan to take your nap.
2. Drink a Cup Of Coffee Before You Nap
A research has shown that pre-napping caffeine intake actually increases the benefits of your nap. Plus, when the coffee kicks in, it will also help you wake up more easily.
3. Choose The Length Of Your Nap
We already agreed that 20-minute naps are the ideal ones. Anyway if your lifestyle permits, you might want to take longer naps according to the benefits you’re looking for.
4. Find The Right Environment
Choosing a dark room will definitely help you with falling asleep. If you want to nap at work, make sure to bring a pillow or a face-mask. It shouldn’t be too hot or too cold where you intend to nap, so have a sweater with you or look for a room with some fresh air.
5. Avoid Any Potential Distractions or Interruptions
People around you should know when you’re napping so they don’t interrupt you. Also, turning on the silent mode on your phone and turning off the TV might be a good idea. The annoying sounds might make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
6. Set Up Your Alarm Clock
Make sure to set your alarm clock at the right time: not too soon, but also not too late. Leave yourself from 5 to 10 minutes to ease into relaxation and add up the length of your nap.
7. Relax Yourself To Sleep
If you’re lucky enough you won’t need any additional tools or methods to get yourself to sleep. However, if you’re not that person, you can try different power nap music, including guided and silent meditations, binaural beats or calming soundtracks. If that doesn’t work either, 4-8-7 breathing technique will surely help!
8. Wake Up As Soon As The Alarm Goes Off
Oversleeping during your nap is not good. It will only make you groggy and that beautiful, refreshed feeling after a power nap will disappear. You don’t want to nap without having all its benefit, right? So, train yourself to wake up as soon as that alarm rings.
Power naps are really powerful and are amazing energy-lifters to boost your daily enthusiasm. However, naps shouldn’t replace your sleep.
Naps can bring you a lot of benefits if you learn how to take them properly. They are completely safe and healthy and can actually help us in reaching our daily goals. Whoever naps occasionally, usually looks like a happier person.
Learning how to nap efficiently might be one of the most exciting things you will learn. It will reveal a whole new level of energy that was missing throughout your day and you will only regret not having learned this before.
We encourage you to start napping right now and share your power nap experience with us in the comment section. Happy napping!