Some days when it feels like you’re not running on all cylinders, whether it’s a work day or a weekend full of errands, you see a friend who looks full of energy.
Did they have an extra shot of espresso in their latte or just finish a great workout? No, they confide. They grabbed a power nap.
You might think you could never fall asleep in the daytime, or that taking an afternoon nap would throw a wrench into your schedule. You might even find yourself wondering: Do power naps work? Are power naps healthy?
Are naps good for you?
It may surprise you to know that almost anyone can benefit from a good power nap.
Taking a power nap is not being lazy. On the contrary, research has shown that when you recharge with a power nap, you can make better decisions and be more productive, all while giving your brain a much-needed break.
Let’s look at the benefits of power naps, and simple tips for adding them to your daily routine.
What is a power nap?
The idea of laying down and sleeping during the day might seem foreign to some people. But studies have shown that short, controlled periods of sleep are not only rejuvenating for your body, they help your brain function better, too.
Let’s take a closer look at the concept. A power nap is a short window of sleep that happens during the day, ideally between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Taking a nap any later than that is not recommended because it might disrupt your regular sleep schedule.
How long is a power nap?
Most power naps last between 10 and 30 minutes. Many people think this timeframe is the sweet spot for an afternoon snooze, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed and alert with a quick boost of energy.
Yet some people find their bliss in mini power naps lasting just 6 minutes. Research has shown that the simple act of falling asleep – even if you wake up just minutes later – improves your brain’s memory processing center.
Benefits of napping
We all know what it feels like to start off our day fresh, well-rested and alert. But by afternoon, we might feel like we’re dragging and our brain might not be quite as sharp as it was a few hours before. A power nap can help restore that feeling of alertness by enhancing our cognitive abilities.
Napping can not only give our brains a boost by improving memory function and learning ability, it can also improve our mood and increase our creativity and productivity. A NASA study involving its astronauts found that a power nap improved their overall performance by nearly 35 percent and their level of alertness by 100 percent.
Better mental alertness after a nap means people are less likely to make mistakes in their work, and less likely to cause drowsy driving accidents on the road. But even more than that, power naps can land like a mini-vacation in the middle of your day, giving your body a chance to relax and feel rejuvenated.
Before starting on your power-napping journey, there are a few things you should consider.
Ask yourself: Are you tired?
Assess how you are really feeling right before you decide to nap. Are you really tired enough to fall asleep? If you know you’re not, skip the nap so you won’t spend 20 minutes staring at the ceiling.
Set an alarm
This takes your mind off worrying about whether you will wake up on time and prevents your nap from turning into too long of a snooze that might mess with your regular sleep.
This might mean playing some relaxing music or white noise in the background, using earplugs or covering up with a warm blanket to help you sink into a cozy sleep.
Find a good spot to rest
Comfort is key when it comes to a successful power nap. Don’t try to save time by sleeping while sitting up in your chair at the office.
Find a place where you can lay down or at least recline. Maybe this is a couch or even just tilting back the seat in your car.
Next, make it as dark as possible. Shut the curtains or blinds, put on a sleep mask or even a pair of dark sunglasses.
Allow for adjustment
It can take a little time to get back to full energy after you wake up from a power nap. Be kind to your body and give yourself at least 15 minutes to adjust.
As your body gets accustomed to the benefits of power napping, you might find at first that you don’t quite feel ready for bed at your regular time each night.
That’s a normal reaction. You can consider a natural sleep supplement like Nutrilite™ Sleep Health, which has a proprietary blend of valerian, hops and lemon balm to help you relax so you can fall asleep.† You can also try n* by Nutrilite™ Sweet Dreams Gummies, another sleep supplement that promotes restful sleep.†
†This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.