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When you think of napping, what comes to mind? Infants and toddlers, perhaps. Well, if that is what napping means to you – you. are. wrong. Seriously. The truth is, napping has some pretty amazing benefits, especially if you are an on-the-go 20-something.
Be your best self
Although hour-long naps probably aren’t ideal at your age, a good 15-30 minute power nap during breaks, lunch, and/or once you get home from school or work may be just what you need to be your best self personally, socially, and professionally.
What is a power nap? Well, a power nap, also referred to as a ‘catnap,’ is considered a brief snooze or sleep that allows you to get a few minutes of shut-eye but doesn’t make you sleepier or groggier afterwards.
Improve your health
In fact, studies suggest that power naps are good not only for your health but also for your job performance – i.e. quality and quantity. As a result, many companies have begun to encourage power naps to boost morale, retention, attendance, and productivity.
Other benefits of a power nap include increased alertness, improved memory and learning capabilities, lower blood pressure and better cardiovascular health, more energy, protection against cellular damage, higher levels of testosterone, stress relief, a better mood, and a stronger immune system.
If you’re trying to decide if a power nap is worth your time, you’ve come to the right place because this article will explain to you the benefits of power naps, and teach you how to get the best power nap possible.
Benefits of a power nap
Listed below are some of the amazing benefits of power naps:
- A Better Mood: Power naps can put you in a better mood. More specifically, taking a quick power nap midday can boost your serotonin level (the “feel-good hormone”) and create balance in your body. Note: You can experience an even better mood by also adding some exercise to your daily routine.
- Increased Energy: Getting a little shut-eye during the day can actually increase your energy. In fact, studies suggest that taking a brief snooze in the middle of the day (i.e. during lunch or breaks) can improve your energy and productivity at work and at home. How does it boost energy? By giving your brain a much-needed rest from making decisions, solving problems, and processing information.
- Less Stress: A power nap can relieve some of the stress you feel. Did you know that stress is the #1 reason that people become chronically ill (i.e. hypertension, high blood pressure), or develop anxiety, depression, headaches and migraines, asthma, muscle aches, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, borderline personality disorder, viruses, eating disorders, insomnia and sleep disorders, and even gastrointestinal distress (constipation and/or diarrhea). The good news is resting can help almost any illness or condition.
- Improved Memory & Better Focus: Catnaps can also lead to improved memory and better focus. Taking a quick nap every day can help you snag the job you’ve been eyeing or move a step higher at your current job. We all know the key to an employer’s heart is a good memory and even better focus; if you’re rested, you can retain more information, work faster, and produce better results. Moreover, these power naps can help you learn vital information more quickly.
- A Lower Risk of Health Problems: Lastly, power naps can lower your risk of health problems. When you’re a super busy young adult, you can get (and stay) really busy – really quickly. There’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done – and relax or have some “me time.” Unfortunately, all work and no play (or rest in this case) can lead to a host of health problems. Power naps can slow your body down so it can do a wellness check and repair any damage. These quick snooze-fests can also lower high blood pressure, help you fall and stay asleep at night, improve your digestion, and even banish acne.
When you power nap, your brain signals to your body to release its supply of endorphins. These endorphins help your body relax, so it can “fix” any issues and combat any ‘invaders’ like viruses and unhealthy bacteria. The result? Less stress and a healthier mind and body.
Read the longer version
You can learn more about power napping and how to power nap by reading the following articles: Napping by the Sleep Foundation, The 20 Minute Power Nap: How to Power Nap like a Pro by Sleep Habits, Power Naps: Your Guide to Getting More Shut-Eye by Healthline, and The Secret (and Surprising) Power of Naps by WebMD.
Pick the right time to power nap
It’s important to choose the right time to take a power nap. A quick 15-30 minute siesta during lunch time (between 12:00pm and 2:00pm) can boost your energy level and stabilize your blood glucose counts (blood sugar). Why is this important? Well, during these hours you are more likely to get the midday slump.
Therefore, this is when you are most likely to experience a decline in these areas. However, try to refrain from taking power naps right before bed. Why? Because, it can keep you up at night. So, instead of overindulging in coffee and soda to keep yourself awake and alert during the day, try a quick power nap.
The key to a great power nap is not getting too much rest that you are unable to sleep at bedtime.
Block out distraction
You can’t power nap if you are surrounded by distractions; block as many of them out as possible. Remember, your goal is to fall asleep quickly so you can get the most out of your snooze. Choose a quiet, dark place to nap. The room or space should also be cool and free from barking dogs, rowdy children, crying babies, your favorite jams, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pings, and sitcoms or movies. Also, don’t forget to turn off your smartphone, and if need be, slide on a sleep mask to help block out any light. What if you are at work? Then, close your door (if you have an office) and turn off the lights. If you work in a cube, go to your car or a unoccupied conference room, turn off the lights, and lay your head down on the table for a quick nap.
Set your alarm
Lastly, set your alarm if you plan to take a quick catnap. If possible aim for a 20-30 minute nap. If that isn’t possible, aim for, at least, a 15-minute one. Studies suggest that it takes approximately 20 minutes to reap the benefits of a power nap – i.e. increased alertness, concentration, and focus. On the flip side, longer naps like an hour or two can cause you to awaken feeling groggy, irritable, and even more fatigued.
About the Author
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Ph.D. in Family Psychology
Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
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