You’ve been on the go all day, getting things accomplished and feeling great. But in mid-afternoon all of a sudden you feel tired and sluggish, and maybe even a little irritable. It drags you down and you can’t wait to find a few minutes to get a cup of coffee that will help you make it through the day. But instead of using those few minutes for afternoon coffee, it may be more beneficial to take an afternoon snooze.
If you have an extra 15-30 minutes to spare, taking a power nap can make you feel rejuvenated and give you the energy to finish your day. Power naps are sleep, but for a short amount of time. When you take a power nap, you wake up before deep sleep even begins, keeping you from the groggy, post nap feeling many of us can relate to. Power naps are not meant to replace any nighttime sleep, but act as a supplement to give you the extra boost you need when you’re feeling tired throughout the day.
Different lengths of time spent napping have different results due to our sleep cycles, so it’s important to know how long to nap to gain its benefits.
What is a ‘Power Nap’?
A power nap is thirty minutes or less of sleep. These naps are great for an extra boost of energy and make us feel more alert. During a power nap, we are in the lighter stages of sleep and easily wake before deep sleep hits, feeling energetic.
Once we sleep for more than thirty minutes we begin to enter deep sleep. Waking from a nap this length may help us improve memory and decision making, and also strengthen creativity, but will most likely leave us feeling groggy and sluggish. Also, it may take just as long to even feel rested from this nap.
If we nap for sixty minutes or more, we are in a deep sleep at this point. Benefits of napping this long are also improved memory and creativity, but it can also make us groggy.
If you’re feeling extra sleepy, a long nap may be beneficial. Sleeping for ninety minutes or more puts us through the whole sleep cycle, light and deep sleep, including rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The benefits to this are improved procedural memory and creativity, as well as improved mood. After this nap, it’s easier to wake up feeling rested. Unfortunately, not many adults have time in their busy schedules for long naps.
A ninety-minute nap may seem so appealing, but most of us just do not have the time for that long of a nap. The most beneficial nap for many adults is the power nap. If your schedule allows it, it’s a good idea to make power napping a part of your daily routine. Try napping the same time every day, best in mid-afternoon, for no more than thirty minutes. If you try to nap too early, you may have a hard time because your body probably won’t be ready for sleep. Napping too late may interfere with sleep patterns and you may have a hard time falling asleep at night. A comfortable, dark room can help you nap if you have access to one. Don’t forget to set an alarm so you wake up and avoid falling into a deep sleep.
Having a regular napping schedule may not only help you feel energized but may have health benefits too. Regular naps reduce stress and may decrease your risk of heart disease.
Most of us don’t have the time to go through a full sleep cycle every afternoon. So it’s good news that such a short nap can have such great benefits. That 20 minutes looking for your cup of coffee could be spent napping, giving you all of the benefits and the energy to finish out your day.