Categories: Relaxation and Sleep

The Science Behind Taking a Power Nap and Why They’re Good for You

Are you feeling constantly fatigued? Why not take a power nap

Sick of feeling fatigued and desperate for sleep half way through the day? Ever thought about taking a power nap to take the edge off the tiredness? Here is why we think that’s an idea well worth trying…

With over a third of adults in the a country the size of the United States reporting under-sleeping and just simply not getting enough rest during the week, it’s no small wonder people are feeling tired throughout the day.

Sleeping less than the seven hours a night suggested by the CDC can lead to mental distress and irregular blood pressure at best all the way up to elevated stroke risk at its very worst.

As it turns out, sleeping well is important no matter who you are, and power naps can be a solid way to round out your sleeping needs.

Napping for Your Memory’s Sake

That isn’t to say a short nap can properly replace your need for a full seven to nine hours of sleep a night, unfortunately.

NASA performed a series of nap-related tests on volunteers to gauge exactly what stresses and downsides astronauts must face with their unusual sleeping schedules.

While some of the core components of the study relate only to those with relatively short core sleep in the range of four to six hours a night, their findings about power naps are of particular interest.

A significant boost from a little extra sleep

Primary results of NASA’s study focused on how quickly and appropriately their volunteers reacted to various stimuli of both a physical and mental description.

As it turns out, many of your body’s functions aren’t taken to outrageous levels by a short nap, but your memory’s key functions can receive a significant boost from a little extra sleep.

Longer naps prove to be better, which isn’t a huge surprise, but you don’t always have to get a full eight hours of sleep just to remember key details of your daily activities.

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Boost Your Power Napping Efficiency

If you find yourself having issues with getting proper sleep and nap more frequently than your schedule truly allows, you may need to spend some time troubleshooting why you’re sleeping so poorly.

Daily stress and overstimulation before bedtime are common and not always easily remedied, depending on your schedule, along with EMF pollution.

For some, the matter of a good night’s sleep might require physically wearing yourself down and properly burning off excess energy to help lull you into a deeper and more restful sleep.

For that, you can’t go wrong with proper exercise. You’ll reap extra benefits while getting better sleep to boot!

Taking a Power Nap? Find a comfortable sleeping position

It is all well and good getting a massage to help relax and ease subtle back ache BUT if you have a bad back it’s much better to treat the root cause.

Finding a comfortable way to position oneself in bed without triggering chronic pain might require changing the way you sleep.

It’s unfortunate, but our bodies often send signals that we ignore rather than adapting to.

If your body is telling you it’s time for a change, consider how side sleeping is the most common way to sleep in its various incarnations, and sleeping on your left side can naturally aid your circulation.

Whether you’ve tried sleeping on your side or not, a cervical neck pillow for side sleepers might just help you get the rest you’ve been looking for.

First, You Must Know How to Nap

That’s a slightly ridiculous statement yet still rings true:

To nap effectively, you must first grasp the key points of what makes taking a power nap so powerful. In its simplest form, you can take in some basic pointers for your next nap:

  • Don’t sleep too long
  • Sleep somewhere secluded and dark
  • Plan your naps ahead of time
  • Watch your caffeine intake

Most of these tips are for the benefit of getting properly restful sleep, especially in the cases of caffeine intake and sleeping somewhere dark enough to foster healthy sleeping habits.

Sleeping too long is a different matter, as oversleeping can lead to something known as sleep inertia.

Discussed further in the NASA studies mentioned before, sleep inertia is the sense of grogginess you suffer after waking up from a particularly long rest.

Keep them Short

Shorter naps often lead to little or no sleep inertia, but if you sleep deeply enough to reach a proper REM sleep you may suffer worse grogginess than if you’d simply avoided the nap altogether.

That’s not to put you off of napping!

Know how much time you have to nap and make sure you set an alarm for yourself. Otherwise, you may find yourself adjusting your nightly sleep schedule on an emergency basis if you oversleep and throw off your natural sleep rhythm.

Nap planning in general is fairly important, but not all of us are lucky enough to have jobs and lives that let us sleep whenever we want. Make sure your sleep needs match your schedule accordingly.

Naps Aren’t Just for a Deep and Restful Sleep

Sounds counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Why nap if you’re not trying to sleep?

As it turns out, taking a power nap may not just be about falling into a proper sleep, as chronicled by Brooke Schuldt of Fitness Magazine, who spent a week napping for science’s sake.

Her initial outlook probably mirrored a lot of other adults who believe napping is something done out of a sense of emergency need, not a healthy part of a weekly sleep schedule.

Throughout the week she altered her power naps from trying to sleep on a commute to a guided meditative nap that helped alter her worldview on naps and reportedly boosted her mood in ways a normal nap might not have.

You may not be able to fall into a deep sleep right away, and that’s fine. Napping can just be a way to unwind and clear your head, too.

Longer Naps Stimulate Creativity and Boost Your Energy Levels

Setting an alarm for a short snooze is a viable solution for those who struggle with chaotic sleep patterns and overwhelming fatigue.

While power napping (15-20 minutes) during daytime can help you treat sleep deprivation by resetting the entire system and giving your body an energy boost, you may want to find out what happens if you nap for more than 20 minutes.

Research shows that slow-wave sleep napping (30-60 minutes) can improve your decision-making skills and memory, while a 60-90 minutes nap will stimulate your brain in making connections, thus enhancing creativity.

To avoid sleeping too little or too much, you must set an alarm every time you prepare to take a nap. Otherwise, you will feel groggy and even more tired than before you went to bed.

A Few Napping Benefits You Probably Didn’t Know About

Aside from the benefits highlighted above, napping can reduce blood pressure and prevent heart attacks. Midday naps help lower blood pressure and reduce the number of drugs required to combat hypertension.

Taking a power nap also boosts your productivity, improves your general mood and reduces stress.

You may just need a pick-me-up

To sum it up, if you find yourself sleepy or out of sorts, you may just need a pick-me-up in the form of a short nap designed to get you up and moving again!

With the appropriate experimentation, you’ll eventually figure out what works best for you and your individual power naps.

Plan your nap needs, set alarms, record how you feel after your naps and remember to get a proper night’s rest in the first place. A proper nap starts with proper sleep.

Let Us Know….

Are you regularly taking a power nap? if so how do they make you feel?

Do you find you have more energy?

Please let us know and share your expericenes in the comments below…

Alex Moore

Alex Moore is a passionate writer and a Side Sleeper Guide contributing author. He has always been fascinated with sleep research and everything related to health, self-improvement and motivational advice. If you’re interested in reading more of his work, go on Twitter.

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