There’s nothing better to me than a good nap.  When I think of all those times I refused to take a nap as a child, it makes me very sad.  As an overworked and crazy busy adult, I take advantage of any opportunity to nap that comes along.

It seems that there is a certain stigma attached to napping – that of being lazy.  But I disagree!  While naps don’t make up for inadequate or poor sleep over time, a power nap can help give you a little refresher.

Consider these benefits to napping:

  • Restores and increases alertness both immediately following the nap and can even extend alertness for a few additional hours in the day.  Studies have shown that a 20 minute nap is more effective than caffeine.  Breaking up your day with a short nap can leave you feeling energetic and productive as you take on the second part of your day.
  • Enhances performance
  • Reduces mistakes and accidents
  • Provides psychological benefits as a source of relaxation and rejuvenation
  • Improves memory retention
  • Prevents burnout
  • Heightens creativity
  • Improves health.  Sleep deprivation leads to a host of health issues, including an excess of the hormone cortisol.  Sleeping is the antidote to cortisol and boosts your immune system, reduces stress and anxiety and aids in weight loss.  Sleep allows your brain and body a chance to rest and heal.

To get the most out of your nap and wake up feeling refreshed and recharged, try these tips:

  • Give yourself a 30-minute limit.  Sleeping any longer can be harmful to your regular sleep pattern because you will end up in a deeper stage of sleep that is more difficult to come out of.  Waking up during this stage can leave you feeling worse than when you went to sleep.
  • If you have more than 30 minutes to nap, consider a full sleep cycle nap.  This is the amount of time the body needs to go into REM sleep and the entire sleep cycle.
  • Take a walk instead of a nap.  If you regularly fight the urge to take a nap immediately after lunch, try a brisk walk instead.  The fresh air, sunshine and adrenaline can help boost your energy.
  • Avoid napping after 4 PM.  The middle of the afternoon seems to be the time most people find themselves needing an energy boost due to the low point of the body’s circadian cycle.  Napping later in the afternoon can disrupt the body’s natural cycle and have you lying awake at bedtime.
  • Even a brief rest period can help.  Although you may not be able to fall asleep in five or 10 minutes, closing your eyes and resting can help refresh your body and help you feel more alert.

Do you regularly take naps?  Have you found a power nap to be beneficial to your performance or creativity?

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