Many of us find it almost impossible to get enough rest at night, and sleep deprivation causes a whole host of body and mind issues that can keep us from performing at our best and enjoying life to the fullest. While a good night’s sleep is essential, a daily nap can buoy us up when we’re not getting quite enough rest. And for those who already sleep well at night (well… aren’t you lucky), a nap can carry the performance of your body and mind to the next level.
Taking a timeout for a siesta during the day does a lot more than just give us a quick energy boost. It also has some serious cognitive and health advantages as well. A power nap is a short sleep session that happens during the day (ideally between 1:00 to 4:00 PM) lasting between 10 and 30 minutes. Any longer and you will run the risk of developing “sleep inertia”, that groggy feeling that takes some time to shake off. And naps later than 4:00 PM can disrupt your regular nighttime sleep.
Humans, unlike 85% of all mammalian species, sleep just once a day. Scientists aren’t sure if we’re naturally monophasic as opposed to polyphasic or if it’s modern society that has made us so (although chances are the later). Regardless of the reason, it’s clear that nearly a third of us are not getting enough sleep. Power naps do alleviate our sleep deficits.
But, did you know that they can also boost our brains, including improvements to creative problem solving, verbal memory, perceptual learning, object learning, and statistical learning? They help us with math, logical reasoning, our reaction times, and symbol recognition too. Naps are also great for improving our mood. Plus, napping is good for our heart, blood pressure, stress levels, and surprisingly enough, even managing our weight.
A 2008 study showed that naps are even better than caffeine when it comes to increasing verbal memory, motor skills, and our perceptual learning. Afternoon naps improved free recall memory compared to the caffeine group after both 20 minutes and seven hour intervals, while resulting in improved learning on physical tasks than what caffeine offered.
Did you also know that countries where naps are common tend to have lower levels of heart disease? Napping can improve your sensory perception as well as a whole night of sleep can do. Napping also improves your creativity. Research found that stress hormone levels were lower in those who took stress-reducing naps.
While the pace of our day-to-day life might keep us from being the biphasic sleepers that we were meant to be, the urge for a mid-day snooze is still hardwired into us. So, taking a power