With a busy and hectic schedule, it is often difficult to get as much sleep time as our body requires to stay healthy, alert and energized through the day. According to some studies, our body requires about 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to fully function. However, for someone who works late into the night and has to get up early in the morning as well as students burning the midnight candle, 8 hours of sleep is but a luxury they cannot afford. Well I have great news for you in two words: Power naps.
Power nap is a short sleep of specific duration usually not up to an hour, that is terminated before the onset of a deep sleep. Some of you may wonder, ‘why not just take coffee?’. Coffee keeps you alert and somewhat energized, but it in most cases reduces mind function. Power naps, however, not only keeps you alert and energized, but also improves mind function, alongside some other benefits.
A study in case being NASA giving pilots and other members of the aircraft crew 25 minutes of sleep, a power nap, and they woke up feeling alert, energized and generally healthier than when they were sleep deprived. They were also more efficient and less prone to mistakes that are usually caused by fatigue. Another case in study; nurses working a shift in the hospital. They were told to take 40 minutes to sleep, another power nap, and they woke up feeling refreshed, alert and energized. Those that partook in the power nap were found to administer IVs more efficiently with less mistakes in their endeavors, a sign of improved mind function.
Some studies say that having a nap of 20 minutes improves alertness and motor learning skills, while those lasting 30-60 minutes helped increase brain utilization displayed through better decision-making skills, recalling information such as direction and details and memorizing vocabulary.
Power naps are time limited because sleeping past the required time and waking before getting sufficient sleep causes one to feel moody and groggy and may also impair the health of the person. Something even coffee may not help with. Some people even wake feeling more sleep deprived and tired.
Benefits of Power Naps
1. Increased productivity and alertness: I feel this can’t be over emphasized. Power naps are great for people who are tired with a big work load on their plate and can’t afford to sleep. Short power naps at regular intervals gives you the sense of someone fully rested and because it improves mind function as well, it increases productivity.
2. Improves memory and learning: let’s be honest, trying so hard to read that one chapter and memorize that one phrase is next to impossible when half the time we are dozing off and the other half of the time we are thinking of giving in to our body’s need to sleep. Here’s a friendly advice; give in to the sleep, for a few minutes. Study shows that naps as short as 6 – 10 minutes actually enhances learning ability, alongside keeping you awake and alert to do more reading (or writing).
3. Reduces the risk of cell damage: not having sufficient sleep, the body becomes tired and its functions could be impaired. Aside from affecting your work effectiveness and capabilities, it also affects your body system down to the smallest cell, thereby increasing the risks of diseases and infections. Although a power nap may not significantly heal cell damage, it helps to prevent sleep-deprived effects on the body.
4. Assists with fat burn and muscle building: The more sleep you get, the higher the amount of testosterone in your body. Testosterone is required to burn fat and build muscle. Lack of sleep reduces testosterone and growth hormone, making these difficult. A power sleep increases the amount of testosterone considerably in instances where you can’t have enough sleep.
5. Stress reliever: power naps reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep and also restores the biological markers of endocrine and immune health to normal levels, therefore reducing stress.
6. Mood improvement: regular short naps improves coordination thereby reducing confusion and frustration. It also improves mental and cognitive health.
7. Heart health: according to a research done by a cardiologist, power naps reduce blood pressure. It also reduces damaged caused to the arteries, veins and heart muscles caused by high blood pressure. Lack of sleep causes stress, which leads to high blood pressure and because power naps reduce stress, it reduces the occurrence of a high blood pressure. Studies also show that the mere expectation of a short nap lowers the blood pressure. With your new knowledge on power napping, I’m hoping you see the power of 30 minutes. Try making a habit of power napping from time to time even during those busy days with those few minutes you’ll hopefully have to spare. Here’s how to:
8. Go dark: it’s easier falling asleep in a dark place. find an isolated room or a nap room, turn off the lights and get to it. You may also use eye covers if you need to
9. Isolate yourself: you definitely do not need the distractions during those few minutes now do you? Staying away from noise also makes it easier to fall asleep
10. Set an alarm: set your alarm so that you do not oversleep and defeat the purpose of a power nap. You also want to avoid getting in trouble for staying away too long.
11. Consistency: make it a habit and try to do your power nap the same time every day. This helps your body conform to it, making it easier to fall asleep, and increasing its effectiveness.
12. Be comfortable enough: be sure to find somewhere you’re comfortable. However, be careful to not be so comfortable that you wouldn’t want to leave when you have to. It is difficult for some people to fall asleep within ten minutes, and this could take up all your free time. Remember, power naps aren’t necessarily sleep trips. You could just isolate yourself, relax and let your mind drift. It’s still the same effect as a power nap. For assistance, you may get nap tunes and calming sounds so that you fall asleep faster or relax better.