8 Tips on How to “Power Nap” Properly.
|June 9, 2012||Posted by stella under Health, Tips|
Studies conclude that power naps are truly beneficial for our health. Especially in workplaces, it gives a renewed energy and boost work efficiency. There are countries, like Japan, which includes power naps as daily regimen for workers.
Sleep comes in five stages that recur cyclically throughout a typical night, and a power nap seeks to include just the first two of them. This article will discuss how important the “power nap” really is. And will show various tips and techniques on how to perfect it. It’s not as easy as closing your eyes and sleeping for 20 minutes, it’s a bit harder than you think.
The initial stage features the sinking into sleep as electrical brain activity, eye and jaw-muscle movement, and respiration slow. The second is a light but restful sleep in which the body gets ready — lowering temperature, relaxing muscles further — for the entry into the deep and dreamless “slow-wave sleep,” or SWS, that occurs in stages three and four. Stage five, of course, is REM, when the eyes twitch and dreaming becomes intense.
The five stages repeat every 90 to 120 minutes. Stage one can last up to 10 minutes, stage two until the 20th minute. Extenuating circumstances, like manning the controls of a jet, aside, experts believe that the optimal power nap should roughly coincide with the first 20 minutes in order to give you full access to stage two’s restorative benefits.
In addition to generally improving alertness and stamina, stage two is marked by certain electrical signals in the nervous system that seem to solidify the connection between neurons involved in muscle memory. It’s like a welding machine. When you wake up, your neurons perform the same function as before, but now faster and with more accuracy, making the 20-minute nap indispensible to the hard-working athlete looking to straighten out his putter or baseline shot.
The only catch is that you have to carefully time your nap to avoid waking in slow-wave sleep (third stage), which can produce sleep inertia. So it’s better to use an alarm clock in the beginning.
So, how to get the perfect nap? Everyone, no matter how high-strung, has the capacity to nap, but the conditions need to be right. Here are some helpful hints:
1. The first consideration is psychological: recognize that you’re not being lazy; napping will make you more productive and more alert after you wake up.
2. Try to nap in the morning or just after lunch: human circadian rhythms make late afternoons a more likely time to fall into deep (slow-wave) sleep, which will leave you groggy.
3. Avoid consuming large quantities of caffeine as well as foods that are heavy in fat and sugar, which meddle with a person’s ability to fall asleep.
4. Instead, in the hour or two before your nap time, eat foods high in calcium and protein, which promote sleep.
5. Find a clean, quiet place where passersby and phones won’t disturb you.
6. Try to darken your nap zone, or wear an eyeshade. Darkness stimulates melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.
7. Remember that body temperature drops when you fall asleep. Raise the room temperature or use a blanket.
8. Once you are relaxed and in position to fall asleep, set your alarm for the desired duration (see below).
How Long Is A Good Nap?
THE NANO-NAP: 10 to 20 seconds. Sleep studies haven’t yet concluded whether there are benefits to these brief intervals, like when you nod off on someone’s shoulder on the train.
THE MICRO-NAP: two to five minutes. Shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness.
THE MINI-NAP: five to 20 minutes. Increases alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance.
THE ORIGINAL POWER NAP: 20 minutes. Includes the benefits of the micro and the mini, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of useless built-up information, which helps with long-term memory (remembering facts, events, and names).
THE LAZY MAN’S NAP: 50 to 90 minutes. Includes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormone, great for repairing bones and muscles.
Power nap can really boost your energy and your health, especially during grueling work hours. It’s a must. So if your workplace still doesn’t recognize it yet, better show this article to your manager.
What do you think?