How Long is a Good Power Nap?
The list of prolific power nappers is long and filled with names that anyone would recognize. Ronald Reagan took a power nap each day after lunch. Napoleon power napped, and he conquered much of the known world. Winston Churchill found time to power nap while defending Western civilization. Da Vinci power napped, too.
But how long is a good power nap? Say, for example, you want to follow in the footsteps of the luminaries above. How should you go about it?
Read on to learn more about the benefits of power napping, as well as the answer to the most important question: How long is a good power nap?
The Benefits of Power Napping
Let’s start with why you should be power napping in the first place. Scientists are fascinating with the power of the power nap, and for good reason. Here’s a look at just some of the main benefits related to power napping that research has uncovered:
- Memory: You’re better able to remember things and to learn new concepts when you power nap regularly.
- Cardiovascular Health: Power napping helps reduce blood pressure, which in turn promotes heart health.
- Alertness: Power napping helps you be more responsive, aware and alert, whether you’re driving, sitting at the office or reading a book.
- Productivity: When you choose to power nap, you’re able to return to work (or whatever else you’re doing) and be far more productive. In essence, you actually save time by spending a few minutes power napping.
- Cellular Health: A lack of sleep can actually damage your body at the cellular level, including harm to your intestines, lungs and liver. A power nap promotes healthy cells.
- Stress Relief: Power napping can actually lower our norepinephrine levels, which are part of our fight-or-flight response system. Lower levels mean less stress.
- Better Immunity: Your body is better able to fight of the flu and other possible illnesses when you regularly power nap.
- Hormone Boost: Getting too little sleep can depress your hormones your hormones to dangerous levels. Power napping gives you a boost — especially in men who need to generate more testosterone.
- Mood Enhancement: The workday can often be long and frustrating. Taking a power nap helps you roll with the punches and keep your mood up — even on Mondays.
The Ideal Length of a Power Nap
We’ll be straightforward here: The perfect amount of time for the average power napper is 20 to 30 minutes. During the first 30 minutes of sleep, even when you sleep at night, the brain begins to slow down — but it doesn’t shut off altogether.
But, beyond 30 minutes, you enter into slow wave sleep, which is when your brain slows down significantly. If you let your body sleep past 30 minutes, you begin to enter into slow wave sleep, and you’re going to feel groggy and sluggish once you wake up.
And definitely don’t sleep past 90 minutes. At that point, your body enters into the rapid eye movement (REM) phase during which you dream. If you enter into REM sleep, you’ll have a hard time reengaging with work or whatever else you’re doing.
Additional Tips for Better Power Napping
Ready to try out power napping? Stay within the 20- to 30-minute limit, and follow these other tips to make the most of your brief snooze:
- Get Comfy: Find a place where you can truly relax and feel comfortable. If you try just laying your head down on your desk, you may not unlock the benefits of power napping.
- Turn Off Your Tech: Turn off your email. Put your phone into do-not-disturb mode. You’re not going to get a good power nap if you keep getting alerts.
- Add Some Ambient Noise: Trying to nap in a noisy area? You can always put on the Sleep radio station on Spotify (see music player below), or you can even try the White Noise app for your mobile phone.
- Breathe Deeply: Focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Take not of the discernable pause when an inhale becomes an exhale and vice versa. This will help clear your mind and fall asleep much faster.
- Keep it Short: Remember: Don’t go past 30 minutes. If you do, you enter a danger zone from which it’s tough to recover.
- Set an Alarm: Always set an alarm. You don’t want to Rip Van Winkle your way into REM sleep and miss a meeting or picking up the kids from school.
- Ease Back Into Things: You may feel a little disoriented when you first wake up. And that’s OK. Try drinking some water or splashing water on your face. Oh, and brush your teeth, too.
- Don’t Force It: You can try power napping. But if it’s not working then it’s not working. A power nap should be restful and energizing. So don’t force it.
Final Thoughts on Power Napping
We live in a culture that seems to glorify sleep deprivation and working until all hours. Nothing could be more counterintuitive. Getting sleep helps you be more productive so that you don’t have to work late or on weekends. And getting sleep helps keep your body healthy.
So give power napping a shot, and see if you can unlock its many benefits. It may just change your career — or your life.
Do you have any expert tips for taking a good power nap? Send us a message, or use the comments section below to share them.
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