We all live stressful lives these days. Demanding bosses, pressures from home and even obnoxious neighbors add stress to our lives. A stressful day usually means a sleepless night. While experts keep reminding us of the importance of a good night’s sleep, most of us are unable to make up for our sleep deficit even during the weekend. So, what is the solution to this problem of sleep deprivation? Power Naps. Yes, some experts recommend short 20-minute power nap to improve our alertness and mood.
- Also read: How much sleep do I need?
What is a power nap?
A power nap is a nap that can power you up. It is long enough to give you that much-needed rest and bust of energy to pep you up for the rest of the day, but not so long that it leaves you groggy. According to experts, 20 minutes is the ideal length of a nap. You will wake up with that extra boost of energy and alertness that you so desired.
However, if the nap gets longer than this, there are chances that you will wake up feeling worse.
How to power nap?
Make the atmosphere around you conducive for a power nap. Take rest in a cool, dark room that is free from any distractions. Switch off your phone and laptop. If you’re in an office, hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door.
The best time to take a power nap is one or two hours after lunch when your blood sugar levels are low. This 20 minutes recharge will boost your energies for the rest of the day.
Have a cup of coffee before you sleep so that you wake up with an extra boost of caffeine. If you’re having trouble sleeping, put on some soothing music. Do some light exercise or stretches after you wake up.
Top 20 benefits of a power naps
Power naps are good for our brains and bodies. They improve our alertness and productivity. In research done on NASA pilots, it was discovered that short naps for 25 minutes helped enhance their productivity, alertness, and performance.
Another study was done on physicians and nurses who were on three consecutive night shifts in their departments.
These physicians and nurses were asked to sleep for 40 minutes at around 3 am. The researchers discovered that these doctors and nurses worked better and were less fatigued and sleepy after their nap.
2. Improves memory
Numerous studies have been done on the ability of power naps to improve memory. Power naps can boost alertness and enhance learning ability no matter what your age.
Power naps can improve memory retention. When we sleep, our recent memories are transferred to the neocortex, where long-term memories are stored.
3. Reduces blood pressure
Power naps can be highly beneficial for your heart health. Taking regular naps reduces blood pressure which helps in lowering the damage to heart and arteries which is usually caused by high blood pressure.
4. Prevents cell damage
Our body is severely affected when we are sleep deprived. Researchers have discovered that lack of sleep can damage cells. Our liver, lungs and small intestines are affected due to sleep deprivation.
5. Boosts testosterone
Lack of sleep leads to decrease in testosterone and growth hormone in the body. According to a study, men who slept for four hours had 60 percent less testosterone than those who slept for eight hours.
Since testosterone plays an important part in weight loss and muscle gain, it is a good idea to nap if you are keen to lose weight.
6. Relieves stress
Power naps help to relieve stress and boost our immune system. According to a report published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, napping helps reduce the ill effects of sleep deprivation. Norepinephrine levels in our body can increase in case of stressful situations.
Sleep deprivation also has the same impact on this hormone. Interestingly, even a 30-minute nap can bring down the levels of norepinephrine levels in our body substantially.
7. Cheers you up
A good power nap can almost instantly cheer you up. It brightens up the mood and energizes you. In seniors, a short nap can reduce frustration and confusion.
8. Boosts creativity
According to scientists, napping can improve our sensory perception. Some researchers have even suggested that power napping enhances creativity and learning.
9. Prevents weight gain
According to a study done by a Stanford University, you are more likely to gain weight if you sleep less. Lack of sleep triggers hormone gherkin, which makes you want to eat more.
Sleep deprivation also lowers the level of the hormone leptin, which tells us when we are full. A short power nap can reverse the levels of these hormones.
10. Lowers your risk of diabetes
According to the University of Chicago not getting enough sleep can raise your risk for diabetes. In this study, men who slept for less time had more fatty acids in their blood. Higher fatty acids can eventually lead to diabetes. More sleep, on the other hand, can lower fatty acids in the blood.
11. Reduces risk for Alzheimer’s
Researchers at John Hopkins University have discovered lack of sleep can cause Alzheimer’s disease. During this research, the participants who did not get enough sleep had greater deposits of B-Amyloid, a plaque associated with Alzheimer’s, in their brains. This plaque cleans itself when you sleep. Even a short nap is helpful.
12. Healthier skin
If you are sleep-deprived, you develop fine lines, uneven skin tone, and loose skin. Sleep deprivation can make you age faster as it weakens your skins ability to repair itself. Napping can help keep your skin young and healthy.