As we all know, sleep is very important. Without sleep, a person won’t be able to survive for long. Sleeping helps in restoring and regenerating our bodies. During sleep, our immune system, neuromuscular system, skeletal and muscular system gets restored. These systems play a role in maintaining our moods and physical strength. After a long day of work, one just needs some rest to get back the energy to work for the next day.
Sleep is a natural process that is characterized by alternate consciousness – It has mainly two modes REM and Non-REM where REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. During sleep, the growth hormone gets released, and also during the day when you sleep there is the secretion of a hormone named prolactin.
Researches have also revealed that less than 6 hours of sleep triples your chances of getting hit by a car. If you skip your sleep then there are many side effects such as decreases in reaction time, poor eyesight, loss of judgments, poor processing of information, poor performance, vigilance, less or no motivation, less patience and deteriorated performance.
It has been seen that people who experience fatigue have aggressive behavior, mood swings, more stress, and breakdowns.
The full form of Non-REM is Non-rapid eye movement. Non-REM sleep is the first few minutes after you go to sleep. It is also called slow-wave sleep. It is the transition period from being awake to falling asleep. The brain slows down using less energy and also there is a drop in our body temperature and heart rate.
As stated, earlier REM stands for rapid eye movement. This stage of sleep is also known as paradoxical sleep. It’s a small portion of the total sleep time. It is the stage where deep sleep occurs and is followed by rapid eye movements and fast brain waves. There is also no homeostasis and loss of muscle tone during this stage of sleep and the brain waves are also not synchronized. This is the stage where we see dreams or people start sleepwalking or sleep talking.
A very small period of sleep is known as the nap. As days go by people are becoming busier and busier. In this modern era, people have to do night shifts in different sectors of jobs. Night shifts destroy their sleep routine and it has been proven that sleeping during the day can’t help you cover the benefits of your night’s sleep. With a busy schedule, people are more open to adapting to the idea of naps where they try to finish their sleep within a short period.
There are different types of naps like caffeine nap, power nap, etc.
Power naps are also prescribed by medical professionals for those who have sleep orders like EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleeping), as it helps them to cope up with their sleepiness. Power Naps are mostly taken when one is awake but still feeling sleepy and drowsy. Power Naps are usually short terminated where it ends before the deep sleep wave system.
It usually lasts between 20 to 30 minutes. This short nap enhances the alertness and motor skills of the individual. The power nap is so short that it ends before the start of the slow-wave sleep. Nappers become more adapted to this and before entering a long nap they get awakened. This becomes a difficult situation and the term for this situation is called Sleep Inertia.
Many experiments have been conducted on power naps. In one such experiment, the nappers were told to sleep for 5,10,15,20 minutes and positive results came after 10 minutes of sleep. After 10 minutes of sleep alertness and cognitive skills were enhanced at their peak whereas after 20 minutes the person was going into sleep inertia and after waking up, they felt a lack of sleep and energy. Improvements in alertness were seen after 30 minutes but not as much as 10 minutes of sleep. This experiment was conducted in Flinders University study, Australia.
People who are used to taking short naps or power naps have the best idea regarding how long they should take their catnaps to feel refreshed again. They know which tool will help them to fall asleep for a nap or the right environment that they need to take a power nap. Power naps are best effective when the person has already had a full night’s sleep because experiments have revealed that after a full sleep if we later take a power nap during the day then it improves our mental performance.
Power naps not only help you to get restored but also help you to improve your learning and retaining skills. There are times when a person has an important meeting scheduled at night but he is not getting the energy to attend it. In these times power naps come in handy and save you. Sometimes it’s better to take a power nap and regain your energy than staying forcefully awake and losing your concentration and consciousness.
Small kids tend to sleep more but in the case of adults, their sleep is not so frequent. Many times after a hard day of work some people feel drowsy and lazy during the afternoon and at that time a power nap comes in handy. An afternoon nap or power nap means less stress, more efficient learning, more reaction skills, more patience, and a more active brain. Even our body seems to be designed for power naps because even after an 8-hour sleep one can feel sleepy or drowsy in the afternoon.
Even if a person just has 5 to 10 minutes in hand, then they must shut their eyes and take a short nap of 5 minutes because a little rest is also helpful. It releases stress and anxiety and relaxes the body and mind. This gives you more energy to complete the work left for the rest of the day. It is also suggested by sleep experts that if your sleep deficit is less, then your power nap must not be more than 15 to 20 minutes. Because sleeping longer will make you enter into deep stage sleep from which it’s difficult to get up and then at night it will be difficult for you to fall asleep causing sleep insomnia.
The National Biomedical Research Institute and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have conducted experiments on power napping with astronauts. They have concluded that taking power naps daily can have a positive effect on your memory
WAYS TO TAKE POWER NAPS
Make your power nap at night into a mini sleep schedule
Though it’s suggested that if you should take a power nap during the day, it should last between 20 to 30 minutes. But if you are taking a power nap at night it can be more than 20 to 30 minutes and ideally it should be around 90 minutes. This gives your body a boost and recharge. 90 minutes is the average time it takes for a person to complete 1 full REM cycle of sleep. REM cycle is the deep stage sleep cycle that gives your busy life the most peaceful and restful sleep that it needs. Thus a 90 minutes sleep rejuvenates your body and gives you that hit of energy that an average power nap can’t give you.
The average sleep cycle of a person is around 90 minutes. So, it is best for a person to either take a 20 to 30 minutes nap or take a 90 minutes nap. Sometimes you don’t have the whole night to sleep, you have a night shift or you may return late at night and need to get up early the next day.
In such cases, you don’t have 8 to 9 hours to complete your sleep. At this time it is suggested that you take a nap for at least an hour and a half as this will help you to stay refreshed the next day. And it’s better to take a 90-minute power nap rather than staying up all night and showing up the next day at work looking like a ghost.
Plan your power nap and know when you will be sleeping next
Sometimes your work schedule is so messed up that you will have to put up an all nighter and then again show up the next day at work in the afternoon. In these times you need to plan your nap so that you can stay awake and not feel drowsy or sleepy during work.
This will also help you feel less guilty or upset about taking a nap. If you can do the planning and know that you can sleep for 90 minutes then that nap will help you a lot. This will help you from feeling super sleepy and tired.
A famous technique used by great thinkers like Tesla, DaVinci is known as the polyphasic sleep technique. It is the technique where you break your 8 hours long nap into many small power naps. Those who use this technique take a nap for half an hour after every 6 hours and after 24 hours they are ultimately sleeping for just 2 hours.
This technique requires a lot of planning because these mini naps should fall exactly after 6 hours otherwise the whole system breaks apart. This is a very intense process for a normal power napper but it’s the best process to take out most of the time from your day if you need extreme efficiency.
If you are too busy or working on something very passionately where you want to get involved day and night this is the process that can help you to retain your energy. And it should be always kept in mind that little sleep is better than no sleep. One can feel that after waking up one is feeling groggy due to a deep sleep cycle but the actual reason is this type of sloppiness happens due to interruption in sleep.
FEW TIPS FOR TAKING AN EFFECTIVE POWER NAP
1. Avoid caffeine
We know that caffeine is a stimulant that activates our nerves. It’s a stimulant that disrupts your sleep and stays in your body for a very long time because its half-life is around 4 to 6 hours. So if you want to take a short nap then you must avoid caffeine before napping.
2. Set an Alarm
Sometimes while napping you won’t be able to take control over the time you are napping. Your sleep can get stretched for more than 20 to 30 minutes. Once you enter the deep sleep cycle stage or the REM Sleep cycle stage then it gets very difficult for you to wake up. So, you should set an alarm if you are not very much used to power napping so that you can get up on time.
Some people are not very comfortable with the idea of power napping or short time sleep. It’s difficult for them to take a short nap during the day. The reason is either that they have trouble falling asleep or that they try to take a short nap then that gets stretched into a long nap.
In this case, one can try meditation because meditation gives your brain some peace and rest which is considered similar to sleeping. It gives your body some rest and produces slow brain waves.
4. Choosing the right time
You must carefully select your time as in at what time you are taking your power nap. If your nap is taken in the early afternoon for just 15 to 20 minutes then your power nap will give you a boost of energy and enhance your memory and retention abilities. But if you are taking a nap in the late afternoon then that nap can be harmful to you because that nap won’t let you sleep at night, disrupt your sleep cycle and you will experience sleep insomnia.
5. Try drinking coffee
Though you must indeed avoid caffeine, drinking a cup of coffee right before your power nap can help you to keep a check on the time. It might be a shot of espresso that you can drink just before going for a power nap.
Then automatically after sleeping for 20 minutes the caffeine will start kicking in your body and you will get up. This will help you to maintain your time for a power nap and won’t let you enter the deep cycle stage or the REM stage of sleep.
6. You must find a comfortable space
When a person is working from home then he can easily take a power nap at noon after lunchtime. He can go sleep on his bed or he can just get cozy on his couch. The difficulty comes when you are working in your office and suddenly feel drowsy and feel the need to take a power nap. At that time it’s difficult to find a comfortable space at the office.
Though some offices have nap rooms now, if your office doesn’t have one then you will have to make the best out of your office space. If you have a couch then you can lay on it and take your power nap. You can either cross your arms over the desk and then lay your head on it and take a nap or you can lean back in your office chair as far as possible without falling down and then take a nap.
7. Use of good noises
Sometimes people can have trouble falling asleep in the afternoon. But just because they feel drowsy they will need a power nap. In these times one can take the help of sweet noise.
Either one can put on his earphones and listen to calm and soothing music which will help them to fall asleep faster or they can take the help of pink noises. Pink noises are natural noises that can help someone to fall asleep quickly. Pink noises include the sound of falling rain, the rustling of leaves, waves crashing the shore, etc.
8. Keep a check on what you are eating before your nap
One must keep a check on what they are eating before the nap. If you are planning to take a nap in the afternoon after lunchtime then it’s advised to eat a light lunch excluding very spicy food.
Spicy foods aggravate your stomach and when you lie down to sleep then they cause gastric influx inside your stomach which will result in stomach pain or heartburn and that will disrupt your sleep. Also, if you want to take an afternoon nap then you must try to have your lunch early. This way you will have enough time to digest your food before your power nap.
9. Make power naps a part of your schedule
If you are a person who starts feeling drowsy and tired in the afternoon even after getting a full 8 hours of sleep then power naps can just be the thing that you need to include in your schedule. Taking a power nap daily will help you to get accustomed to it and also your bio clock will get used to it. It will be much easier for you to fall asleep in the afternoon for 20 to 30 minutes without disrupting your night’s sleep.
10. Feel energized after your nap
Sometimes people can feel sluggish even after a power nap and they wake up feeling more tired. This happens because when we wake up from a night of sleep there is a drop in our blood pressure. In these times one can do some light exercising and stretching to again feel more energized. One can also drink a glass of water with some lemon juice to again feel better.
BENEFITS OF POWER NAP
- LOSS OF WEIGHT: Studies have revealed that those who feel tired and sloppy end up eating fattier and unhealthy food. So, a power nap can make you feel less tired and indirectly help you in losing weight.
- INCREASED CONCENTRATION: Power naps help in enhancing your memory and retention abilities. They help you to concentrate more effectively and help you remember things better.
- PRODUCTIVITY: After taking a nap you become more productive and highly energized.
- GLOWING SKIN: As we have heard about beauty periods of sleep, power naps act like a beauty sleep. When one is rested enough then their body is also rested enough and this helps in maintaining their glow.
- HEART ATTACK AND STROKES: Studies have revealed that napping can extremely lower the chances of getting a heart attack or stroke.
- IMPROVES MOOD: A power nap can hugely influence your mental health and improve your mood whereas less sleep can make a person grouchy and irritated.
- STRESS REDUCTION: A short nap lets you take a break from your work and makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. This helps in the reduction of stress.
Sometimes a nap can also depend on other factors like mattresses, environment, etc. You must invest in a good mattress to get a good sleep. Organic mattresses are one such type of mattress that is very good. These mattresses are eco-friendly and are made without using synthetic materials via a chemical-free procedure. One who loves using natural things these mattresses are perfect for them. To buy a good organic mattress one needs a good organic mattress buying guide which will help them to select the perfect mattress for themselves.
Therefore, power naps can be your savior when you go to your work feeling all energized in the morning but by afternoon you start feeling all drowsy and tired. Also, in this modern era where many among the population need to work at night, power naps can essentially help them to complete their sleep. Taking a power nap is always a better option than chugging coffee at night to stay awake.