The Science Behind Power Naps

How are naps aiding our body. Power naps explained.

How strange is it that when you were a kid and your parents told you it was nap time, it was literally the worst thing in the world?

“Mum I don’t need a nap, I’m not tired. I promise. Pleeaaassssseeee”

Whereas now if I was offered nap time at work, I’d be there in a heartbeat. Obviously, it would have to be organised sleep pods rather than under my desk at work. Then again, it all depends on how tired I was or how bored I was at work!

I think the stigma previously tied to napping has been lifted and people are really starting to understand the benefits of taking a timeout to revitalize. When I previously worked from home, taking a short nap on my lunch break genuinely boosted my mood and energy for my next Skype meeting. Having looked into the widely available information on the benefits of micro sleeps, I have found quite a few health benefits which I would like to share with you all. Since I finally decided to buy a mattress that actually supported my back and neck, and since I have been incorporating naps into my daily routine, I feel like I can take on the world (most days). Don’t get me wrong, I understand naps can’t always be facilitated, but if you can take time out of your day to nap, it will make a massive difference.

Here are a few reasons why.

Most people I talk to say they are not getting enough sleep. I don’t think I have ever said I think I’m getting the correct amount of sleep. There was always room for more. If you think about it logically, can you think of any other mammal that just sleeps once? Apparently humans are in a very small group of mammals who sleep daily, whereas a high percentage of mammals are polyphasic, which means they sleep more than once a day. Therefore, if they can do it, why can’t we?

Power naps allow our brains to rejuvenate and research has shown that it can improve our cognition, with problem solving skills, memory and reaction times improved, to name just a few. Plus, recently I heard that the length or duration of your power nap can help improve different skills or parts of your brain. Therefore, you can tailor your power naps to your needs, and what you may be facing that day.

Power naps usually occur in the afternoon, post lunch, and when you are starting to lag a little. Try to incorporate them into your day before 4.30 PM, as anytime after that I’ve found that I could easily sleep through until the evening. In my eyes there are three kinds of naps, a 10-20 minute nap, a 60 minute and a 90 minute power nap, each of which I’ll use depending on how much time I have available and how switched on I need to be.

The 10-20 minute nap will allow you to get a quick revitalizing injection, whilst boosting your mood. It gives you energy and increases your alertness. Therefore, if you only have a small amount of time before you have to hit the ground running, this is the perfect one to roll with.

A 60 minute power nap may seem like it may be harder to fit into your schedule, but it is a great way to remember facts, faces and names. This is a really beneficial one for me, particularly when I’m heading to a conference or meeting in the afternoon. I’m sure I’m not the only one that sometimes struggles to remember everyone’s details.

The big 90 minute nap allows you to get into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which usually is when you dream. By having a 90 minute power nap it can improve your emotional and procedural memory (motor skills), as well as your creativity. Plus, having a 90 minute nap generally helps you to avoid that groggy feeling when you wake up.