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The Secret of Power Napping

After a long weekend filled with chocolate, activities, and turkey feasts I would imagine some of us need a power snooze.

Power naps for adults can enhance performance, reduce stress, and reduce mistakes and accidents. Naps can increase alertness right after the nap and can even extend alertness a few hours later in the day. They also provide an easy way to relax and rejuvenate. Sleep deprivation can be treated with naps as well. Although you can’t go wrong with an afternoon siesta, there can be negative effects in certain situations. For example, if you nap too late in the day you may affect your nighttime sleep schedule or if you nap for too long you may wake up with sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening from a deep sleep. It may last up to 30 minutes and therefore affect work performance during that time. This is why it is important to determine the length of your nap to maximize benefits and minimize negative effects.

What is the ideal nap length?

  • 10 to 20 minutes – this nap is good for alertness and energy.

  • 30 to 60 minute nap – best for improvement in remembering facts, faces and names etc. Sleep inertia can occur.

  • 60 to 90 minute nap – leads to improved emotional and procedural memory (e.g. playing the piano) as well as creativity. Sleep inertia occurs.

Nap or Coffee?

A nap is better than a cup of coffee because caffeine can decrease memory performance and make you feel more wired which can lead to making more mistakes.

Napping Tips

  • Be consistent - Keep a regular nap schedule. Prime napping time falls in the middle of the day, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

  • Make it quick - Set your alarm for 30 minutes or less if you don't want to wake up groggy.

  • Go dark - Nap in a dark room or wear an eye mask. Blocking out light helps you fall asleep faster.

  • Stay warm - Keep a blanket nearby to put over you because your body temperature drops while you snooze.

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