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How to power nap for maximum benefits

How to power nap for maximum benefits

How to power nap for maximum benefits

Taking a nap is like rebooting your brain.

The Japanese even have a word for strategically sleeping on the job: “inemuri,” roughly translated to “sleeping while present.”

Pete Hamill once said, “The replenishing thing that comes with a nap — you end up with two mornings in a day.”

Sir Winston Churchill managed on just four hours sleep a night during World War Two — but insisted on a two hour nap in the afternoon.

Albert Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a night, plus daytime naps.

Scientists have shown that a 60- to 90-minute siesta can charge up the brain’s batteries as much as eight hours tucked up in bed.

“It’s only since the industrial revolution we have been obsessed with squeezing all our sleep into the night rather than having one or two sleeps through the day,” explains Vincent Walsh, professor of human brain research at University College London.

In one study of 23,681 Greek men over six years, the participants who napped three times per week had a 37% lower risk of dying from heart disease.

Sleep experts have found that daytime naps can improve many things: increase alertness, boost creativity, reduce stress, improve perception, stamina, motor skills and accuracy, enhance your sex life, aid in weight loss, reduce the risk of heart attack, brighten your mood and boost memory.

“Daytime naps can be one way to treat sleep deprivation. You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping. You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance”writes Dr. Sara Mednick in her book, Take a Nap! Change Your Life .

Napping at work is an art that is often practiced with great caution.

Sleeping on the job is one of those workplace taboos — like leaving your desk for lunch or taking an afternoon walk but it has great benefits to your brain and can improve your focus and alertness.

“Companies are suffering from tremendous productivity problems because people are stressed out” and not recovering from the workday, said Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte.

A growing number of businesses are recognizing what research has long trumpeted: Daytime napping may come with big advantages — both psychological and professional.

In recent years, Google, NASA, Uber, Zappos and Nike all offer some form of napping benefits.

“Increasingly, companies are realizing that their employees’ health is one of the most important predictors of the company’s health, as well,” writes Arriana Huffington in her most recent book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder .

If you are allowed to nap, or can get it right, you can genuinely improve your working life by redefining how you go about the rest of your day.

With more rest, your brain will be better at processing the glucose you get from food, giving you more mental energy throughout the day.

In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers tested subjects on their performance four times throughout the day.

Performance deteriorated with each test, but subjects who took a 30-minute nap between tests stopped the deterioration in performance, and those who took a 60-minute nap even reversed it.

“Naps had the same magnitude of benefits as full nights of sleep if they had a specific quality of nap,” said Sara Mednick, a co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

One of the keys to power napping (also known as “cat napping” in the non-work world) is to keep them short.

Many experts say 10 to 20 minutes is the ideal duration to bolster energy and heighten alertness.

Too long a nap can risk grogginess.

The benefits of a nap can even last for several hours.

Professor Leon Lack from Flinders University explains:

Ten to 15 minutes of sleep seems to be the optimum period in terms of improving mental operations, performance, reaction times and subjective feelings of alertness. And that improvement in performance and alertness seems to be maintained for up to two and sometimes three hours after the nap. Interestingly, the five-minute nap just didn’t produce the same amount of improvement, while longer naps of 25 to 30 minutes led to subjects being somewhat drowsy and less alert for up to an hour after the nap.

A power nap is magical. It’s the most effective way to wake up and refresh your mind when you’re feeling tired and sluggish.

Moderate-duration nap taken during the usual post-lunch dip can significantly improve how you work.

The Wall Street Journal offers recommendations for planning your perfect nap, including how long to nap and when.

“For a quick boost of alertness, experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap is adequate for getting back to work in a pinch.

“For cognitive memory processing, however, a 60-minute nap may do more good, Dr. Mednick said. Including slow-wave sleep helps with remembering facts, places and faces. The downside: some grogginess upon waking.

“Finally, the 90-minute nap will likely involve a full cycle of sleep, which aids creativity and emotional and procedural memory, such as learning how to ride a bike. Waking up after REM sleep usually means a minimal amount of sleep inertia, Dr. Mednick said.”

The National Sleep Foundation suggests that a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes is best for “short-term alertness,” providing significant benefits for improved focus without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with sleep.

For a perfect nap, find a restful, cool, dark place to lie down in, without any noise or distraction. Or invest in a sleep mask you can keep in the office. Earplugs might help, too.

The trick, is to work out what kind of nap suits you best and stick with it if you can.

Before you go…

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Power napping has been shown to boost productivity, energy, and performance in all types of people, even NASA astronauts. In order to experience these benefits, it’s essential to nap the right way. Below, we explain how.

How to power nap for maximum benefits

How to power nap for maximum benefits

There’s no doubt about it: Power naps feel amazing. But, how do you pull one off without wanting to stay in your cozy bed for hours on end?

Before we dive into the details on how to power nap properly, let’s discuss what a power nap actually is. Power napping is a short period of slumber that you purposefully wake yourself up from before reaching deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep.

The truth is, there’s a very fine line between a power nap where you wake up alert and a plain old, regular nap where you wake up feeling groggy and hit the snooze button.

It turns out that NASA astronauts helped the world find out how to pull off the optimal power nap.

What’s a NASA Nap?

After years of research, NASA scientists found that power naps were able to boost their pilots’ performance by 34% and improve alertness by up to 54%.

The team at NASA determined that an optimal power-nap time should be anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. If you sleep longer than 20 minutes, there’s a greater chance you’ll fall into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which can impair your ability to wake up feeling refreshed, alert, and powerful.

How Long Is a Power Nap?

To reap the benefits, it’s important to aim for the optimal power-nap length. A 2016 study that built on the work that NASA did found that 10-minute naps helped reduce short-term performance impairment among civilian study participants and resulted in minimal sleep inertia, a transitional state between sleeping and waking that can result in impaired performance, reduced vigilance, and increased desire to hit the snooze button and return to slumber. Comparatively, study participants who napped for 30 minutes experienced more frequent incidents of sleep inertia.

So, the next time you’re wondering how long a power nap should be, remember that 10-20 minutes is the sweet spot and 30 minutes is most likely too long. It turns out that what’s best for NASA pilots and astronauts is also be best for you and me.

The Benefits of Power Napping

Commonly referred to as a “15-minute cat nap,” power napping is something humans have been practicing for centuries. Even icons such as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, and Aristotle were noted cat-nappers.

In fact, in many places in the world, midday naps are encouraged with entire towns and cities shutting down to honor this quiet time, also known as a siesta. In many Spanish countries, for example, siestas were at one time actually considered a physical necessity, alongside nutritious food, proper water intake, and a healthy community network. Many countries continue to honor siestas today.

The practice of siesta is known to provide a variety of cognitive benefits including, but not limited to, memory consolidation, preparation for subsequent learning, executive functioning enhancement, and a boost in emotional stability.

But those benefits don’t always remain static across our lifetimes. From a physiological perspective, our sleep patterns change as we get older. For example, infants’ naps are indistinguishable from nocturnal sleep, while children’s naps are predominantly NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, young adults’ naps have a balance of NREM and REM, and older adults’ naps are dominated by more REM sleep.

When you reach a REM state during a nap, you’re bound to wake up more groggy. This one reason why some people choose to avoid naps as they get older.

If the “15-minute cat nap” has been known to be so beneficial, why is it not a topic of discussion for our self-care practices alongside exercise and meditation? The short answer: It needs to be done correctly. Here’s how to do it.

5 Essential Power-Nap Tips

Now that we know true power naps should not exceed 20 minutes in length, here is some advice to ensure that you don’t drop into REM sleep and wake up feeling groggy:

  1. Consider drinking a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea before your power nap—also known as a “coffee nap.” Sure, it may sound counterintuitive, but keep in mind that the caffeine won’t kick in until 20 to 30 minutes have passed, which is right around when you’ll be waking up.
  2. When you recline to nap in a chair or on a couch, you’ll want to make sure your head is in a comfortable position atop a soft but supportive pillow—so keep an extra pillow near where you tend to nap.
  3. Aim to take your power nap midday, because if you nap later than 3 p.m., it could negatively impact your ability to fall asleep that night.
  4. Eliminate distractions. Try to find a quiet room with less opportunity to overhear chatter, turn off your computer and lights, and silence your notifications.
  5. Set an alarm on your clock or mobile phone—don’t let yourself oversleep!

The next time you feel yourself losing concentration during the middle of the day, why not take a power nap? Give us a shout on Twitter or Instagram to let us know how it went!

If you found this article helpful, consider sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram or emailing it to any friends or family members who might benefit from a better night’s sleep. Sharing is caring!

Research suggests that taking a nap at work actually improves performance, so, why does the sleep-work relationship have such a negative stigma?

As a 16-year-old, I often worked a 12-hour Saturday shift at the local grocery store. This included the typical duties for a teenager’s first job, taking out the trash and unclogging toilets. Good times.

One afternoon, I finished my duties with several hours to spare. I was exhausted, so I headed to my car to take a power snooze. No one would ever know.

About ten minutes into my slumber, I jolted awake to someone rapping on my window. It was my manager. I had made the mistake of parking right next to her.

Inside the store, I was publicly scolded. “Sleeping at work is not acceptable,” she announced. “Anyone caught doing so will be let go.”

Fast forward 10 years. Here I am researching for this article but before writing it, I make a point to rest for a half hour. In fact, I do this for thirty minutes at work almost every day, and I don’t even have to hide it from my managers.

So, why am I not only allowed but encouraged by my bosses to do this? (Helps that we run a sleep website!) It’s also because research shows that this practice actually makes for more productive employees.

What Is a Power Nap?

Sleeping at Work Is a Growing Trend

Benefits for the Employer

Benefits for the Napper

Companies Introducing Power Naps at Work

How To Optimize Office Naps

What Is a Power Nap?

A power nap lasts 20 to 30 minutes and takes the sleeper into phases 1 and 2 of the sleep cycle. This type of rest helps re-energize both the mind and body, helping workers feel ready to go when they wake up.

How to power nap for maximum benefits

Source: “7 Big Time Benefits of Power Naps (And How to Do It)” — [1] Yuri Elkaim

Make sure to set an alarm. Napping for more than 25 to 40 minutes could have you going into slow wave sleep, or more commonly called “deep sleep”. This could leave you waking up even more tired than before.

The amount of time needed varies from person to person, and some people might need as much as 40 minutes. Do some testing at home to figure out what your ideal power rest time is, you will know when you got it because you wake up feeling renewed with energy.

Sleeping at Work Is a Growing Trend

Catching some Zzz’s on the job is becoming more acceptable every year, but the practice has not gained the traction that workers need and hope for.

A 2002 study showed that job performance improves after a 30-minute rest. A 2003 experiment displays nearly the same finding, while a 2010 publication indicates that power sleep improves cognitive function.

How to power nap for maximum benefits

It’s now 2020, so why are there still so many companies that fail to see the benefit of this practice?

The principal reason is that they probably have no idea.

“Lots of research shows that a nap of about 20 minutes in the afternoon has a positive effect on attention vigilance mood and alertness” — Dr. Rita Aouad, M.D. [3]

Benefit for the Employer

Most business leaders do not realize that sleep deprivation in the workplace costs U.S. economy $411 billion a year. If you are an employer, this gives you something to consider, right?

How to power nap for maximum benefits

It could be easy to shrug off these numbers and think, “this doesn’t affect my company.” Based on the statistic that 1 in 3 employed adults do not get enough sleep, chances are it does affect your business.

With sleep deprivation negatively influencing the global economy at nearly 3% GDP, and studies showing that instituting sleep-friendly policies can improve productivity by 34% and alertness by up to 100%, allowing employees to rest in the workplace stands to help companies make more money.

And if you think simply adding a coffee machine to the office is a fix, another study found that napping is a more powerful tool than caffeine to improve overall memory and cognitive function. Then again, you can always consider the popular coffee nap .

The RAND Corporation instructs employers to “recognize the importance of sleep and the employer’s role in its promotion.” Doing so could drastically change your workplace and directly influence profits.

by Loard Eva December 10, 2018, 7:30 am 189 Views

How to power nap for maximum benefits

A power nap is a short sleep that finishes before deep sleep. it refers to a short 20 to 30-minute sleep session. In fact, power naps are very useful for health helping to restore energy, performance, and ability. After a long working day, while you get exhausted, a quick nap helps to boost the energy.

After hearing about the power naps, it doesn’t seem like much at all at first glance. But believe me, after reading about the usefulness of this article, you’ll certainly try it.

Go through the post where we have given some top benefits of napping to have your healthy and joyous life.

Benefits of Power Napping

For you to understand how important it can affect your day to day life, here are some benefits that you won’t like to miss anymore-

1. Boost energy and productivity

For you to understand how important it can affect your day to day life, here are some benefits that you won’t like to miss anymore-

  • A power nap of around 20 to 40-minutes has been shown to improve productivity, alertness and boost energy in all kinds of activities.
  • Napping is so beneficial for the brain and the body. This has been proven even in NASA. They studied and found that pilots who were allowed to take a nap for 25 minutes each day, found that this little amount of time resulted in good performance and alertness.
  • So, everyone can use a 20-to 40-minute power nap especially ER staffs, pilots and other professionals who have a very busy life.

2. Improves learning and memory

  • Power naps help to improve memory and learning ability.
  • Researchers have found that naps as 10 to 20-minutes can give you a boost of performance, alertness, wakefulness. it also enhances learning capacity.
  • On the other hand, power naps as longer than 30 minutes increased mortality and enhance creativity.
  • It helps the brain to work properly after a long tiring day.
  • It also increases your ability to concentrate and help you to remember things properly

3. Improves heart health

  • Nap is very useful for heart health. It helps to reduce blood pressure and depends less on prescription for the heart.
  • It reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • the cardiologist found that midday sleepers experienced less blood pressure and less damage from high blood pressure.
  • There are many heart diseases which can be reduced by taking nap. This is much beneficial to aged people. To improve heart health, nap is very beneficial.

4. Prevents cell damage of body

  • We sometimes don’t count the types of damages that occur to us when we suffer from sleep diseases. We lose focus and become agitated.
  • Our body is also affected to the cellular level. Researchers have found that lack of sleep damages cells especially harsh on cells in the lungs, liver.
  • This kind of cell damage increases the risk of developing many diseases. Nap help to recover deprivation and heals the damage.
  • So, a power nap can effectively protect our cell and prevents from damaging.

5. Reduces stress and boosts the immune system

  • Nap reduce stress and boost the immune system.
  • It also helps the metabolism system. Researchers found that napping can reverse the hormonal effect.
  • It also restores neuroendocrine and immune health to a normal level.
  • Another hormone called Norepinephrine that helps to play a vital role in highly stressful situations.
  • So, more nap means more patience, less stress in your life, better reaction time, increases learning ability, more efficiency, and a better healthy life.

6. Boosts testosterone hormone

  • Napping help to boost testosterone hormone. Lack of sleep increases the risk of reduction in testosterone and growth hormone.
  • Testosterone levels rise steadily with the amount of sleep. researchers have found that the person who slept for only four hours has 60% less testosterone than a normal person.
  • Testosterone plays an important role in burning fat and building muscle.
  • So, a power nap maintains hormonal balance in our body.

7. Elevates mood

  • A power nap helps to refresh the mood. Regular napping improves physical and mental health.
  • It also helps to reduce frustration and confusion.
  • It has the power to increase coordination. The person who denied regular naps grow up into grumpier and moodier person. They become more anxious and less interested in the world around them.
  • Power naps help to change the irritating mood if you are very annoyed or exhausted.

Bottom line

That was all about a power nap. It helps you to boost your productivity, improve memory and learning capacity and keep you focused and so on. Hope these benefits will help you to have a better healthy and happy life.

How to power nap for maximum benefits

Table of Contents

The reason it is called a power nap is that it has the power to recharge your batteries after just a few minutes of sleep. The benefits of a power nap are increasingly becoming known. More and more people are beginning to plan ahead for power naps, to increase their alertness and enhance their productivity.

It is estimated that nearly half of Americans are habitual nappers. Big companies are starting to encourage their employees to be taking well-calculated power naps. But for you to get the most out of your power naps, you must have a strategy. This is because you will not be taking it in the comfort of your bedroom where you may be blessed to have a comfortable mattress by Puffy.

How To Turbo-charge Your Power Nap For Maximum Productivity

By Shilpa Dhaygude

You can enjoy your power nap anywhere and at any time. Here are a few great tips to help you out!

Let the nap not be too short or too long

You should know that power naps are not sleeping sessions, so don’t use them as an avenue to make up for the lost sleep last night. A short power nap should be between ten and thirty minutes. This will always be sufficient to help you recharge your energy reserves without affecting your sleep at night.

Looking to increase your alertness? Then a ten-minute power nap will do the magic. This is ideal if you are working in an environment where high levels of alertness are needed. Or if you can only afford to take off just a couple of minutes off work.

Make it a habit

If you want to read a lot from power naps, then you should not just take it on a few days and skip the rest. You should plan for it every single day at the same time and at the same place.

Your body system will soon adapt and adjust. You will find no problems in falling asleep at the time of your power nap or at night for your regular sleep.

However, if you do it someday and you skip others your body will never adjust. With no rhythm in it, you miss all the immense benefits.

How to power nap for maximum benefits

Know when to take it

Timing if your power nap is of utmost importance. Researchers recommend late to mid-afternoon are the best times to get a nap. These are between 1 pm and 3 pm.

There is biological explanation for this. The human brain has the ability to balance between the circadian rhythm and the sleep drive. The sleep drive increase as the day progresses, but the alerting system usually oppose it and that is what usually keep people awake.

During the recommended times for the power naps, the alerting signal of the circadian system also begins to rise and compete with the strength of the sleep drive which had been progressing throughout the day. Consequently, people begin to feel tired and can thus easily fall asleep.

How to power nap for maximum benefits

Use an alarm

It is recommended that if you will be taking the power nap away from your workstation or inside your car, then you should set an alarm to wake you up after the number of minutes you wanted to sleep. This is to help you not drift further into sleep and missing out on what you were supposed to do.

Try using headphone to block out any noise that may make it difficult for you to fall asleep as soon as possible. If you are usually affected by light when you sleep, then you can also consider using face masks.

Face masks will not just save you from the light. They also will let others not that you are intentionally sleeping at work. So hopefully, they won’t bother you!

Nap while embracing the dark sides

Exposure to light will impact your internal clock and delay sleep from coming. To enjoy your daytime nap, find some dark space to do the napping. Consider sleeping in a place with heavy drapes, blinds, or blackout curtains.

These are ideal in blocking out light so you can enjoy your nap. If you can’t find such places, block out any bright LED lights.

How to power nap for maximum benefits

Always remember to keep your cool

When you sleep, your body temperature will naturally go down. If the weather is too hot, it may have an effect on the quality your power nap.

Try opting for a cooler environment. The ideal temperatures are suggested to be between 60 and 65 degrees F. These are the right temperatures to help you fall asleep quickly.

Caution about power napping

In as much as you may be very upbeat about power naps and you are excited about all the health benefits, it will bring to you, it must be exercised with some degree of caution.

Most people usually experience a drop in their energy levels in the late afternoon, but if you find that you are too tired to proceed with the rest of your day normally, it may not be that you need a power nap, but you may be having an underlying sleep problem.

Turbo-charge Your Power Nap For Maximum Productivity

If you are always tired during the day and you are becoming almost reliant on a power nap, then this could be an indication of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Therefore, watch out while you power nap and ensure that you are not becoming dependent

Waking up from a refreshing nap feels great. You’re no longer exhausted, have more energy and can focus on what you need to get done. The problem is that not every nap falls into this category. Sometimes our naps last too long, leaving us disoriented when we wake up, and somehow, even more tired than before. Or maybe we put ourselves down for a nap but never actually fall asleep, so 20 minutes later we’re just as tired—and also frustrated.

If it sounds like figuring out the perfect nap is a science , that’s because it is. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of carefully planned naps (hi, parents and other caregivers!), but for those who are able to prioritize daytime sleep, there’s research behind how much we should sleep and when. Here’s what you need to know:

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Types of napping

As it turns out, there are three types of napping, according to the National Sleep Foundation :

  • Planned napping (also called preparatory napping) is when you take a nap before you actually get tired. This is a good option if you know you’re going to need to stay up later than usual.
  • Emergency napping is exactly what it sounds like: falling asleep because you’re suddenly very tired and can no longer continue with the regularly scheduled activities of your day. Pulling over to the side of the road to take a nap if you’re drowsy while driving is an example.
  • Habitual napping is when someone takes a nap at the same time each day. Though this is most common for young children, adults can certainly get into the habit too.
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Nap lengths

The benefits of a nap can vary depending on how long you’re asleep. Here’s a breakdown of what happens to your brain during naps of different lengths:

How to power nap for maximum benefits

How to power nap for maximum benefits

Some of the most well-known businesses and organizations out there — think Google, Nike, NASA — have realized that napping can help boost productivity. That’s why many are investing in nap pods and transforming conference spaces into sleep rooms.

“The idea that napping is only for preschoolers is simply not true,” says Raj Dasgupta MD, a professor of pulmonary and sleep medicine at the University of Southern California.

In actuality, power naps offers a myriad of health benefits, from helping to relieve stress to increasing alertness.

But how, exactly, should you go about adding power naps to your daily schedule? Check out our guide to power naps, below, to find out how to you can successfully catch a bit more shut-eye.

A good nap allows for the recovery of brain function, memory consolidation, the ridding of toxins that build up throughout the day, and a burst of energy, says Camilo A. Ruiz, DO, medical director at Choice Physicians Sleep Center in South Florida.

“There’s a drive for us to seek sleep at some point during the day,” he says. As this process builds up, it overcomes you, putting you to sleep at night. “The idea with napping is that we can reset that trigger and hopefully be able to function at a higher level,” Ruiz adds.

In sleep-deprived people, research suggests naps increase alertness, work performance, and learning ability, adds Dr. Dasgupta. Other research finds power naps can even help to boost immune function.

Not everyone needs to nap. For one, people with insomnia shouldn’t nap, explains Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist based in Manhattan Beach, California. If you have insomnia, daytime naps can wind up making you feel like you don’t need to sleep as much at night, potentially worsening your condition.

“If you’re getting good restorative sleep and functioning well during the day, you likely don’t need to nap,” adds Dasgupta.

But here’s the catch: More than one-third of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of seven hours of sleep a night. So, you might not be sleeping as well as you think.

“There are plenty of people who say, ‘I think I sleep fine,’ but if you did a sleep study on them, they’d have underlying sleep issues,” says Ruiz.

If you notice your productivity starts to wane, you can’t process information as quickly as you could in the morning, or you regularly daydream or feel like there’s a “fog” you can’t work through, you could benefit from a power nap, Ruiz adds.

While there are plenty of other energizing stimulants out there, like coffee, nothing is better than sleep, explains Ruiz. Sleep is truly restorative for both the brain and body.

It also helps fight back against sleep debt, which can contribute to the progression of chronic disease and mood disorders, according to the CDC , in addition to low energy and low productivity.

“We sleep for a reason — to rest and restore,” says Ruiz.

“Coffee and other stimulants are short-lived, unlike a true nap, which can provide you with an extra two or three hours of alertness. [That’s] more than you can get from coffee.”

To perfect the power nap, you have to perfect your timing. An often-cited 1995 study by NASA found that a 26-minute nap was the “sweet spot” for a nap, improving alertness by 54 percent and performance by 34 percent.

However, experts tend to agree that anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes is enough to reap benefits without leaving you feeling groggy when waking up. And don’t forget to set an alarm so you don’t go beyond that window.

Here’s why a nap’s length matters: Sleep happens in cycles. A normal cycle starts with lighter stages of sleep called non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and eventually hits a much deeper stage of sleep called REM sleep.

This cycle happens on repeat while you sleep, each cycle lasting about 90 minutes. Deep REM sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being—it’s when your body works to restore energy, increase blood supply to muscles, and promote growth and repair of tissues and bones.

When you nap, however, you want to avoid it.

That’s because if you wake up from REM sleep, you might experience sleep inertia, where you’re left feeling groggy and disoriented. If, however, you only nap 20 minutes, you’ll likely wake up in lighter stages of sleep and thus feel refreshed.

But beyond how long you sleep, there are other ways to make a power nap more effective. Start with these four techniques.

Create the perfect nap zone

A dark, cool, quiet room is ideal for sleep, notes Dasgupta. If you can’t control the light, temperature, or noise on your own, Dasgupta suggests wearing a sleep mask, taking off extra layers like sweaters, and considering a white noise app.

You also want to avoid disruptions, which might mean turning your phone off for a few minutes or putting an old school “do not disturb” sign on your door.

Time it well

Between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. your body temperature drops and there’s a rise in levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. This combination makes you sleepy, which is why this is a good time to nap, explains Breus.

While you usually don’t want to nap after 3 or 4 p.m. — it might negatively impact how well you sleep that night — if you’re a night owl, a quick nap at 5 or 6 p.m. can help you power through the early evening, adds Ruiz.

Ruiz also notes that napping an hour or two before something important — a public speaking event or a demanding task at work — can promote alertness and cognitive engagement.

Consider caffeine

The idea of sipping a coffee before you go to bed may sound counterintuitive, but since caffeine takes about 20 to 30 minutes to kick in, having a bit of the stimulant right before you nap allows you to wake up with an added burst of alertness, explains Dasgupta.

If you’re a shift worker, make naps routine

If you’re a doctor, nurse, firefighter, or you work another job that calls for hours outside of the average 9 to 5, chances are your sleep is disrupted. Taking advantage of downtime to work in some power naps can help make your sleep more regular.

“If you’re consistently sleep-deprived, napping on a schedule can help your body become somewhat used to it,” says Dasgupta. You’ll grow to anticipate a nap between 1:20 and 1:40 p.m., for example, and be able to reboot body and brain while also logging more shut-eye on a regular basis.

Cassie Shortsleeve is a Boston-based freelance writer and editor. She has worked on staff at both Shape and Men’s Health and contributes regularly to a slew of national print and digital publications such as Women’s Health, Condé Nast Traveler, and Furthermore for Equinox. With a degree in English and creative writing from the College of the Holy Cross, she has a passion for reporting on all things health, lifestyle, and travel.

Last medically reviewed on September 4, 2018

How to power nap for maximum benefits

We all love to take a power nap during the day, but only a few are aware that power nap actually reboots the brain and has numerous benefits for our body. Seriously, a good power nap not only helps improve your productivity but also your overall well-being.

It’s no secret that most of us are chronically underslept. We don’t get enough rest and then we drink four hundred million cups of coffee to make up for it. But, caffeine may not actually be the best solution to our sleepiness problem. Instead, we should all be taking short naps.

Benefits of Power Nap

A power nap is magical. It’s the most effective way to wake up and refresh your mind when you’re feeling tired and sluggish. A research has shown that a power sleep is much better than no nap as it enhances the cognitive abilities and alertness. It has also been found that to have important health benefits. A power nap improves learning and memory, prevents stress, boosts mood and creativity, helps jump start productivity and alertness, and even helps lower your risk for heart disease.

However, we all know that not all power rests are created equally. There are times when you take a short nap during a busy work day and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to greet the world.

Other times, not so much- you take a power sleep and wake up feeling disoriented, groggy, and even more exhausted.

How to power nap for maximum benefits

4 Stages of Sleep Cycle

Well, it all comes down to how we do it. The sleep cycle is divided into four stages. In stage one, we’re in a light rest- that weird state between being awake and asleep. In stage two, we detach from our surroundings and real sleep kicks in- breathing and heart rate are regular and our body drops. Then, stages three and four are deep rest, wherein your breathing really slows down, your muscles are relaxed, and you enter rapid eye movement sleep. Rapid eye movement happens about ninety minutes after you sleep.

The difference between an awesome nap and a terrible one comes down to which stage of sleep you’re waking up in. The perfect nap stays in stages one and two. Deep sleep of stages three and four are badness. They mess with your circadian rhythm, which basically leads your body to feel like it’s a different time than it really is. It’s actually a lot like jet lag.

How to power nap for maximum benefits

Once in stage three, your brain is going to hate the idea of getting up. You’re going to be pissed and groggy. Well, it’s just not going to be cute. To stay in stages one and two, take a power nap that is twenty to forty minutes long, depending on how long it takes you personally to relax enough to fall asleep.

Any longer than forty minutes- just don’t do it. Don’t go there unless you have a full ninety minutes to spare.

With ninety minutes, you can at least get through the sleep cycle once and your brain won’t be as disoriented when you wake up. So, the golden rule in taking a nap is thirty minutes or ninety minutes. But, preferably ninety minutes. It’s also a good idea to avoid taking a short nap after 3 PM if you can help it. Because if you sleep too late in a day, you mess up your sleep later than night and the cycle continues. Simply put, you just can’t have that.

Drink Coffee Before a Nap to Feel More Rested

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How to power nap for maximum benefits

  • Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College
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You’re tired, but you don’t have time to really sleep. Rather than taking a power nap or grabbing a cup of coffee, try taking a coffee power nap. Here’s what a coffee power nap is and why it actually leaves you feeling more refreshed and awake than either a power nap or a cup of coffee or even a nap followed by coffee.

What Is a Coffee Power Nap?

You know what coffee is, but it might be helpful to review the power nap concept. A power nap is a short nap (15-20 minutes) that takes you into stage 2 sleep. It’s just long enough to stave off some of the worst effects of sleep deprivation or exhaustion, but not so long that it drags you into slow wave sleep (SLS) or deep sleep, which would leave you feeling groggy if you ended it too soon (sleep inertia). Research has shown that even a 6-10 minute nap helps improve concentration, alertness, motor performance, and learning, while a 30 minute nap confers the benefits of a full sleep cycle, markedly reducing fatigue and reversing much of the physiological damage of sleep deprivation.

A coffee power nap or caffeine power nap is when you drink coffee or a caffeinated beverage right before settling down for your nap.

How a Coffee Power Nap Works

The short explanation is that it takes about 20 minutes for caffeine to jolt your system and 45 minutes before it reaches maximum effect. So, the caffeine doesn’t keep you from falling asleep, but it’s there to boost your performance the minute you wake up.

Here’s the longer explanation: When you drink coffee or tea or your favorite energy drink, the caffeine is absorbed into your blood stream through the walls of the small intestine. From there, the molecule travels to your brain, binding to the receptors that would accept adenosine, a molecule that accumulates when you are tired and causes you to feel sleepy. So, about 20 minutes after taking it, caffeine helps you feel more awake because additional adensoine can’t find a binding location. When you sleep, even if it’s just a quick nap, your body naturally clears the adenosine from the neural receptors. This is why you feel more awake after a nap.

When you drink coffee and take a nap, the sleep clears the adenosine so you wake up feeling refreshed, and then the caffeine kicks in and blocks the receptors so you won’t get tired again as quickly. Plus, caffeine boosts your metabolism and gives you all those other great stimulant side effects. It’s a win-win situation.

How Do We Know It Works?

Scientists can’t get into your brain to see the neural receptors and measure binding rates, but the effects of the coffee power naps have been observed. One study conducted by scientists at Loughborough University in the UK found that tired study participants made fewer mistakes in a driving simulator following a 15-minute coffee power nap. They got the benefits of the nap even if they reported having trouble falling asleep. Japanese researchers found test subjects performed better on memory tests and felt more rested following caffeine naps. The Japanese study also indicated exposure to bright light following a nap or washing your face could help wake you up.
Of course, I advise you to conduct your own experiment to test out the coffee nap for yourself!

How To Take a Coffee Nap

  1. Drink coffee or tea containing 100-200 mg of caffeine. Don’t add sugar or milk. If you choose an energy drink, go sugar-free or else the surge in blood glucose levels may keep you from falling asleep. Alternatively, you could take a caffeine pill.
  2. Set your alarm for 20 minutes. Don’t go past 30 minutes because the coffee nap works best if you’re awake when the caffeine hits your system.
  3. Relax. Sleep. Enjoy. It helps to wear an eye mask or turn out the lights. It’s okay if you can’t fall all the way asleep. Research indicates even deep relaxation, such as meditation, makes a big difference.
  4. Wake up feeling refreshed!

References

Anahad O’Connor, October 31, 2011, The New York Times, Really? The Claim: For a More Restful Nap, Avoid Caffeine, Retrieved Aug. 21, 2015.

Rose Eveleth, Smithsonian magazine, October 24, 2013, What Is the Exactly Perfect Time to Drink Your Coffee?, Retrieved Aug. 21, 2015.

Corrie Pikul, September 27, 2012, Oprah magazine, 6 More Health Myths—Busted!, Retrieved Aug. 21, 2015.

Like this? You may also be interested in whether coffee can really sober up a drunk.