Time is money. Perhaps that’s why humans are the only animals that try to get all their sleep in one long stretch.
People with pets know that cats and dogs, for example, take several naps a day. Maybe this explains why we often envy them… wouldn’t it be great if we could lie down for a few minutes after lunch every day? 😉
But we humans can also make power napping a part of our daily routine. Here are seven reasons why you should try to squeeze in a short afternoon nap:
- Tired people tend to eat fatty, unhealthy foods: sufficient sleep can thus help you lose weight.
- Taking a nap can increase your ability to concentrate and help you to remember things better.
- You are more productive after a power nap.
- Adequate sleep also helps you to stay looking young.
- Napping lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- A power nap improves your mood! (Inadequate sleep can cause irritability.)
- A short break in the form of a nap helps you to relax and reduces your stress level.
Good to know:
A power nap should last no longer than 20 minutes. If you sleep longer, you will enter deep sleep (and that is exactly what you want to avoid). The best thing is to set an alarm.
The right way to power nap
Not only how you nap is important, but also how you wake up afterward. Here are several tips for your next siesta:
- Choose the right time: A nap at midday or in early afternoon can give you a boost of energy. A late-afternoon snooze, on the other hand, can disrupt your nightly sleep cycle.
- Drink a coffee before your power nap: Because it takes 20 minutes for your body to feel the effect of the caffeine contained within coffee, it’s okay to drink a cup before a power nap: when you wake up, the black beverage will provide you with an extra kick of energy.
- Make yourself comfortable: If you work from home, it’s easy to work in a nap at lunchtime – you can sleep in your bed or get cozy on the couch. Taking a power nap at work requires a little more planning: perhaps there is a nap room at work you can use. If not, you will have to make the best of it at your desk (cross your arms on the desk and place your head on top) or lean back in your office chair as far as possible (without falling over, of course). Relaxing music (with headphones) can help you to tune out background noises.
- Get your blood pumping: Because your blood pressure can drop after a nap, people sometimes wake up feeling more tired than they did before. Therefore, it is important to stimulate your circulation after a power nap: the best way to do this is by drinking a glass of (lemon) water or doing a little exercise. Walking up stairs or doing a few stretches are two good methods of getting your heart up to speed.
Studies show that sleep has positive effects on memory
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) together with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute has conducted studies on power napping with astronauts. Their results show that taking short naps regularly can have a positive effect on memory.
Takeaway: If you want to wake up from a power nap feeling energized, it is important to really sleep and not just close your eyes. Of course, that’s not so easy to do at the push of a button—but like with everything in life, practice makes perfect!