A NASA study showed how a 40-minute power nap might improve performance by 34% and alertness by a whopping 100% (1).
Do you feel the need to take a nap sometime in the afternoon? Well, go ahead and do it! Several studies show how power naps can improve alertness and cognitive functioning – and make you far more productive than before.
But, how can you strategically make that afternoon slump in alertness work for you? How can you make your power naps better so that you wake up renewed and refreshed? We have all that (and more) covered.
Table Of Contents
- What’s A Power Nap?
- How To Take A Power Nap
- What Are The Benefits Of A Power Nap?
- What Are The Different Types Of Power Naps?
What’s A Power Nap?
A power nap is a short sleep that you take during the working day to restore your mental alertness.
Power naps, especially during the day, are a healthy way to treat sleep deprivation. Just 15 to 20 minutes of post-lunch napping can give you a burst of alertness and enhanced motor performance (2).
Napping for 30 to 60 minutes can even improve your decision-making skills and boost memory and creativity (3). Reports published by the American Psychological Association state that naps can improve reaction time and logical reasoning even in well-rested individuals (4).
But to reap the benefits of a power nap, you must know how to take one – the right way.
How To Take A Power Nap
How you take a power nap largely determines the quality of your nap. Taking a proper power nap is simple:
- Find a nice spot. You can take a power nap anywhere. You can put your head down on the table. Or cozy up in your chair. You can also take a power nap in the bus on the way back home.
- Keep it short. This is important – 15 to 20 minutes would do. Or 30 minutes at the max. Longer power naps can make you feel groggy.
- Take it in the afternoon. This is the best time for a power nap – 1 PM to 3 PM – as your energy levels naturally dip in this period. Try to finish your nap before 4 PM, else you might have trouble sleeping at night.
But why should you take a power nap? We saw a few of the benefits. Well, there are more.
What Are The Benefits Of A Power Nap?
1. Power Nap Boosts Alertness
We have already seen this. Studies show how taking strategic naps can reduce fatigue and boost alertness in operational settings. Power naps can especially be beneficial if you have 24-hour operational demands (5).
2. Improves Memory And Learning
Daytime naps were found to enhance motor memories – by enhancing the functioning of specific locations in the brain (6). These naps also boost spatial memory in humans, which contribute to learning.
A power nap for about 45 to 60 minutes was also found to improve memory by five times. In one study, 41 participants were asked to remember specific words and word pairs. Half of the participants took an hour-long power nap while the other half just watched a video. When they were tested afterward, individuals who snoozed performed five times better in recalling the words.
Power naps were also found to help your hippocampus consolidate memories (7).
3. Can Help Combat Stress
Studies show how a short nap can relieve stress and boost immunity – more so in people who are sleep deprived. Experts believe napping can help the immune and neuroendocrine systems to recover (8).
Power naps can also boost your mood, and this further helps combat stress.
Some sources state regular power naps can also fight high blood pressure and prevent heart disease. However, more research is warranted in this regard.
Power naps can range from 15 to 30 minutes. Anything beyond that may make you feel groggy. But there are certain strategic sleep times that can help you in various ways. The following infographic will give you an idea.
This takes us to the next section – the different types of power naps. Each has its benefits, and you can choose which one to take depending upon your need and comfort.
What Are The Different Types Of Power Naps?
- The Nano Nap – It lasts for 10 to 20 seconds. We don’t know yet if this has benefits. Studies are ongoing in this area.
- The Micro Nap – It lasts for 2 to 5 minutes. This helps shed sleepiness.
- The Mini Nap – It lasts for 5 to 20 minutes. It improves alertness and motor performance.
- The Original Power Nap – It lasts for 20 minutes. It includes the benefits of the micro and mini power naps. It also improves muscle memory and long-term memory.
Now you know how you can strategically place your naps to get the best benefits. Isn’t that great?
Power naps are, well, powerful. Research has shown that. So, the next time you feel drowsy in the afternoon, you know what to do. Go ahead – take that nap!
Let us know how this post has helped you. Leave a comment in the box below.
1. “Controlled rest periods shown to improve pilot alertness”. NASA.
2. “The role of a short post-lunch nap in improving…”. Liverpool John Moores University, UK. 2007 December.
3. “REM, not incubation, improves creativity…”. University of California at San Diego, USA. 2009 June.
4. “The science of naps”. American Psychological Association.
5. “Alertness management…”. NASA Ames Research Center, USA. 1995 December.
6. “Daytime naps, motor memory…”. Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.
7. “Nap sleep preserves associative…”. ScienceDirect.
8. “Napping reverses health effects of poor sleep…”. ScienceDaily.
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