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The Perfect Nap!

alert cognitive mood nap sleep tiredness

Think naps are just for kids? Think again! A slew of scientific research has proven the benefits of a lovely midday nap, time and time again. Science shows that taking a nap is equivalent to rebooting the brain. It brings to the napper a whole host of benefits later on in the day such as a spike in alertness, creativity, mood and productivity.

Most mammals (85%, if we’re looking to be specific) sleep for short periods throughout the day. Humans however, divide their hours into two periods – one for sleeping and one for wakefulness. But our physiology programs us for two periods of intense sleepiness: one in the early morning (2-4am) and one in the afternoon (1-3pm). So if you’re feeling sleepy halfway through your day, fear not! It is simply your biology talking. Add on the sleep deprivation that most adults live with, and you have a recipe for chronic tiredness. This midday drowsiness reduces our natural reaction time, memory, coordination, mood and alertness. The solution? A nap!

It has been shown that even the briefest of sleep halfway during the day can help us humans function better. A 2008 research study in Dusseldorf showed that the onset of a sleep cycle help to trigger active memory processes that continue remaining effective long after the napper awakes, even if the sleep was limited only to a few minutes.

So just how long should one nap for? Well that depends on what you want out of it!

  • A short 10-20 minute “power nap” is sufficient for that extra boost in cognitive function. Experts even recommend taking some caffeine before your nap (it doesn’t kick into your system so fast), so that when you wake, you will be armed and ready for whatever needs to be done!
  • For cognitive memory processing, a 60-minute nap would be good. The body kicks into slow wave sleep, which helps your memory. Downside however is some grogginess upon waking.
  • If you can afford it, a full 90-minute nap is the best. Your body gets all the benefits of a full cycle of sleep, and waking up after a cycle REM sleep will not cause so much sleep inertia.

Happy dozing!

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