How to Power Nap For More Energy
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Naps are easy to love. From newborn infants to working adults, napping offers tons of health benefits, like improving cognitive skills and keeping you energized and alert.
The older you get, though, the more napping feels like a luxury. Fortunately, power naps exist to give you that midday pick-me-up you need during your busy day-to-day schedule.
What is a Power Nap?
A power nap is a short period of sleep that’s usually taken in the middle of the day. This can give you the physical and mental boost that sleep offers without negatively affecting your natural sleep cycle.
For some countries, midday naps — also known as siesta time — are the norm. Some companies even go so far as to incorporate midday naps during regular working hours.
Although power naps vary in length, sleep experts agree that they shouldn’t last longer than 30 minutes, even though a full sleep cycle lasts an average of 90 minutes.
If your nap is longer than 30 minutes, your body may enter into deep sleep. Because of a phenomenon called “sleep inertia,” waking up during deep sleep can make you feel groggy or drowsy. Since a power nap is used to energize you, it’s best to avoid waking up during deep sleep.
How to Power Nap
There’s taking a nap, and then there’s taking a power nap. Here are some tips to be intentional about your snooze session and wake up ready to go.
- Set your alarm for 20-30 minutes. This is to make sure your nap doesn’t turn into a 2-hour snooze. Remember: Naps longer than 30 minutes may make you feel groggy and drowsy after waking up.
- Sleep midday. As much as possible, take power naps before 3 p.m. Any naps close to nighttime may affect your ability to fall asleep at night, which can set you up for sleep deprivation.
- Find a quiet place to nap. For the best quality of sleep, you’ll want to look for a cool, dark, and noise-free place for you to rest. If available, find a comfortable pillow and mattress to lie down on.
- Eliminate distractions. Turn off your phone or work notifications (but not your alarm!), so you can doze off more easily. Use an eye mask, earplugs, or noise-canceling headphones, if needed. Listening to relaxing music or podcasts can help, too.
- Give yourself a few minutes to really “wake up.” As you come to consciousness after your nap, allow your mind and body a few more minutes to reboot. Don’t work immediately after your power nap because there’s a chance you might be groggy or drowsy, which may lead to mistakes or impaired judgment.
- If you can’t nap, just chill. Don’t force yourself to nap. Forcing your brain to sleep will stimulate it even more. Instead, just sit back, relax, and close your eyes. Studies show that wakeful rest can give many of the same benefits as power napping.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep. Nothing beats getting at least 7 hours of proper sleep. To get the best out of your power nap, complement it with a full night’s rest.
Benefits of Power Naps
Power napping can, in fact, be pretty powerful. When practiced correctly and in moderation, some research shows it can come with a variety of benefits, including:
- Improved mood
- Improved short-term memory
- Increased alertness
- Increased mental focus
- Increased creativity
- Better decision-making skills
- Better reaction time
- Better tolerance to stress and daily frustrations
- Reduced fatigue related to shift work
- Improved cardiovascular recovery
Power napping can be helpful in moderation, but it’s important to be aware that napping too much can come with some negative effects:
- Nighttime sleep disruption
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of depression
- Increased risk of osteoporosis
- Grogginess or drowsiness (especially due to longer naps)
Power naps can be beneficial when you’re sleep-deprived, but they aren’t a holy grail solution. If you experience chronic sleep deprivation or sleep disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia, talk with your doctor about your options for treatment.
A power nap can be an effective way to get that quick energy boost for the day, whether you got a full night’s sleep or not. Power naps, in moderation, may even boost your health and productivity.
For the best results, make sure to keep your nap short and sweet (about 10 to 30 minutes). Just note that power naps are just a temporary solution and should not replace the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Centofanti S, et al. (2016). The impact of short night-time naps on performance, sleepiness and mood during a simulated night shift. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07420528.2016.1167722
Hilditch C, et al. (2016). Time to wake up: reactive countermeasures to sleep inertia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5136610/
Hsouna H, et al. (2019). Effect of different nap opportunity durations on short-term maximal performance, attention, feelings, muscle soreness, fatigue, stress and sleep [Abstract]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31491444/
Liang Y, et al. (2019). Prediction of drowsiness events in night shift workers during morning driving. Accident; Analysis and Prevention. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29126462/
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Wang B, et al. (2020). Bayesian classifier with multivariate distribution based on D-vine copula model for awake/drowsiness interpretation during power nap. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1746809419302678?via%3Dihub
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Learning To Nap Effectively
Want to learn how to take a nap and wake up feeling refreshed? Here’s how to learn how to nap to get the most out of a midday snooze.