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 naps a part of our daily routine.
Here are 7 reasons why you should try to squeeze in a short power nap:
- Tired people tend to eat fatty, unhealthy foods: sufficient sleep can help you lose weight.
- Taking a nap can increase your ability to concentrate and help you remember things better.
- You are more productive after a power nap.
- Adequate sleep also helps you maintain your youthful glow.
- Napping lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- A power nap improves your mood! (Inadequate sleep can make you grouchy.)
- A short break in the form of a nap helps you to relax and reduces your stress level.
How long is the perfect power nap?
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
How you nap is important, but also how you wake up. 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 squeeze in a nap at lunchtime – you can sleep in your bed or get cozy on the couch. You have to go to the office? Then you need to plan a bit better: 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: People sometimes wake up feeling more tired than they did before, because your blood pressure can drop after a nap. Therefore, it is important to stimulate your circulation when you wake up: 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 naps have positive effects on memory
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute have 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!