Despite all the modern studies on its numerous health benefits, the power nap is frequently being underestimated, and considered as something relevant only for toddlers. Instead, most people prefer to believe that drowning yourself in 4oomg of caffeine a day hides no risk for the health, and that it’s perfectly OK to drug yourself with 5 coffees, 5 RedBulls or 12 Cokes in one day. Caffeine overdose however is known to lead to restlessness, anxiety and insomnia, which in turn will lead to waking up even more tired the next morning, and push us into the caffeine’s vicious cycle again. All that sounds familiar? Good news is that it can be easily avoided by simply adopting the habit of the power nap.
Health Benefits Of The Power Nap
A lot of people would say that they’re too busy for napping, or that it’s not possible in the working place. What if I told you however, that all you need is 15-20 min, and that a lot of big companies already officially allow their employees to nap? Uber, Google, Zappos, Capital One Labs and Ben and Jerry’s are some of the companies that recognized the benefits of the power nap not only for their employees, but for the business too. They realised that the good performance of the employees requires a balance between healthy eating, resting and focusing.
Here are the main benefits behind the power nap, which have been known for decades, but somehow disregarded:
Napping is great for alertness, memory, learning and performance
- Naps can restore our attention, improve the quality of our work and reduce the chance for mistakes
- Naps are better then caffeine when it comes to memory, motor skills and learning
- Naps can reduce stress and help manage blood pressure
- Adequate sleep protects against obesity
How To Do It Right
The power nap was one of the things that helped me go though the struggle of juggling between University and a full-time late-shift job for 4 years, and here are some tips for better performance:
Make it a regular – while a one off every now and then will refresh your brain and body, having regular power naps will improve your energy levels and concentration in the long run. Aim for at least 3 times a week and usually the best time for it is between 1pm and 3pm.
- Get the right set up – usually a dark and quiet place will help your brain relax faster and get you into the state of sleep. Having an eye mask and headphones with some relaxing music (or ear plugs) will be very handy to achieve this during the day. If your work place is not nap-friendly, you can have a nap in your car.
- Try the “4-7-8 Exercise” to fall asleep quickly – If you are having trouble falling asleep try this exercise: Close your eyes, and exhale completely. Then breathe in slowly, to a count of four. Hold your breath to a count of seven; then, making a whooshing sound, breath out through your mouth to a count of eight. Inhale one breath in, and then repeat the cycle three or four times. The whole exercise only takes about 60 seconds, and should help put you to sleep quickly. You can also try one of the power nap guided meditations available on the Internet.
Don’t overdo it – while a quick power nap will make you feel refreshed and energized, a longer daytime nap might make you feel groggy (or what is known as sleep inertia). Setting up an alarm for 30 min or less can easily help you avoid this and later on your body will be trained to wake up naturally at the right time. Make sure you get up as soon as the alarm goes off and avoid snoozing.
With all the proven positive effects of the power nap, it only makes sense to give it a try and start reaping all the benefits. It will do wonders for your brain, body and mind. Happy napping!