Naps aren't just for cats and babies! Humans can benefit from them as long as they're done properly. If you're finding yourself needing a quick power nap from time to time, read on to discover the benefits, how long you should nap and tips for having a successful nap…
The benefits of napping
Among nappers, brain activity linked to concentration was as strong in the afternoon as it was in the morning, but it was reduced for non-nappers in a 2009 study. On top of this, an afternoon nap can improve short-term memory and accuracy.
Better energy boost than caffeine
When you're sleep-deprived, your heart rate and blood pressure increase and glucose is released into the blood. This is your body working to stay awake as long as possible. A nap that's not too long or too short will allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and tackle the rest of the day!
As caffeine also raises your heart rate, it's going to make you feel on edge if you have too much of it.
A short nap can help strengthen the body's ability to handle stress, especially if you're lacking sleep from the night before. Research has shown that naps can reduce stress and strengthen the immune system in those who are sleep deprived!
How long should you nap?
A 20-minute nap is the best length as it allows your body and mind to rest without entering the deeper stages of sleep. If you feel like having a long nap, 60 to 90 minutes is enough time too as you will still end up in the lighter stages of sleep. A 45-minute nap isn't the best length as you will wake up during slow-wave sleep (deep) and you'll get that horrible groggy feeling when you wake up.
Naps that are poorly timed can interfere with your nightly sleep (potentially leading to insomnia), disrupt your circadian rhythms, and interfere with your mood throughout the day.
What if you don't usually nap or struggle to?
Not everyone benefits from napping, however, if you feel like you might want to start, here are a few tips to make sure you do it properly:
- Nap no later than 4 pm so it has less impact on your nighttime sleep.
- If you can't nap, go out in the sunshine instead.
- Drink a shot of espresso before you nap. As it takes some time for the caffeine to enter your body, you should wake up alert and ready to go!
- Set an alarm. You don't want your 20-minute power nap to turn into a two-hour sleep.
Invest in a sleep mask
A sleep mask will block out light of any kind when you're trying to sleep. They're usually used by shift workers but if you're napping in quite a bright room, you might find them useful for tricking your brain into thinking you're in a dark room.
The Echor Total Blackout Eye Mask is comfortable, featuring eye indentations and ergonomic wings on either side of your nose to prevent unwanted light from entering the mask!