The Spanish may have been onto something with the siesta, but power naps are a luxury not many of us have time for. And if you sleep during the day, won’t you be tossing and turning all night? Not necessarily. Recent studies show that an afternoon kip could actually be good for you…
How to take a power nap like a pro:
The best time for a nap that won’t interrupt your night-time slumber is between 1pm and 3pm, depending on your sleep schedule. Post-lunch snooze, anyone?
If you can’t go home for a nap (which is probably all of us) and you feel uncomfortable putting your head on your desk, then head to your car for a snooze. You’d want to find a quiet, relaxing space – maybe pop in your earphones and play some soothing music.
For an amazing napping experience, we would suggest downloading the app Tide (available for free on Google Play or Apple App Store). The app has a variety of white noise backgrounds which you can listen to as you work, fall asleep or take a nap. And the best part? You can set a timer so that you never oversleep.
Read more: Top tips for better sleep
Try to keep your nap short so that you can get the benefits you want because timing is everything (especially when it comes to naps).
Here’s a quick break down of ideal nap lengths:
Similar to a meditative state, small snoozes help your body relax. Your heartbeat and breathing calm down, which helps improve circulation, and in turn reduces fatigue. Clever!
While you can revitalise your brain in just 10 minutes, up your nap to 20 and you’ll enjoy increased energy, attention and alertness.
Cleanse your brain from useless information and improve long-term memory. What’s more, you’ll boost your concentration.
Want to make decisions fast? Then bed down for up to an hour and a half. Your autopilot will be more efficient, so you can dance, drive and cook without much second thought.
Here’s why you need a power nap:
1. Heighten creativity because good ideas are the best ideas
Catching 40 winks ahead of that big meeting or major decision-making may seem counter-intuitive, but studies suggest that napping allows the right (creative) side of your brain to ‘chat’ to itself, which boosts cognitive function and helps fuse diverse ideas together. This explains why, post-power nap, big decisions seem easier.
2. Increase focus so you can stay productive
Some brief shut-eye can reduce performance-based errors and increase your alertness. A NASA study carried out on a group of sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that just a 40-minute nap worked wonders, which proves that less really is more!
Read more: Your sleep problems solved
3. Boost your happiness
If your mood starts to drop, a short nap could help. Studies have shown that 20 to 30 minutes of sleep can improve your sense of well-being. Of those studied, those who napped for less than half an hour felt more cheerful than those who slept longer or not at all during the day.
4. Improve your memory
Yes, really. Researchers at Germany’s Lübeck University found that when subjects took a short sleep break after memorising a set of cards and a finger-tapping sequence, they retained the information better than those who hadn’t slept. So if you’re working on a big presentation, reward yourself with a siesta in-between planning.
5. Chill out – you deserve it!
Cranky when you haven’t had enough rest? Lack of sleep leads to an excess of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to unhealthy snacking, weight gain and a weaker immune system. If you’re feeling stressed, take a nap. Research shows that a daytime snooze of between 45 and 60 minutes may reduce blood pressure and help in coping with mental stress.
6. Fix a bad night
Woken up bleary-eyed after a restless night? It’s nothing nap can’t fix. Just two 30-minute naps during the course of the day can improve your immunity and make you feel happier.