The Secret and Surprising Power of Naps for the Biggest Brain Benefits

“Once you get beyond 20 minutes, you risk a deep sleep and you can be much groggier when you wake up”

Jim Horne Sleep Research Council, UK

Why We Need Naps

In our modern rushed world, making time for even a short nap might seem like an impossible bonus. Yet, for some, they may be necessary to make it through the day at peak mental and physical performance. Our bodies crave naps for a reason, some based on our evolution, others on our habits.

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What are the benefits of naps?

  1. It helps the Cognitive function. A small U.S study found that the right side of our brain, that is associated with creativity, had busier activity while napping than the left side of the brain which remained relatively quiet.
  2. Naps also make up for sleep disorders like Insomia, short naps will help you to feel more alert and will enable you to function better.
  3. They relax you because the stress hormone cortisol dramatically drops after napping.

What is the ideal time for napping?

Most of us feel tired between 1 and 4 pm, so try to fit your nap during those hours. Don’t make it later otherwise it can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at bedtime.

So if your boss caught you napping at work, now you will know how to defend yourself and your napping habit, or next time just try to nap out of sight.

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Napping Tips

Research has found that napping regularly may reduce stress and even decrease your risk of heart disease. To get the most out of a power snooze, follow these quick tips from Mednick: 

  • 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 cell phone 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. Stash a blanket nearby to put over you because your body temperature drops while you snooze.

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Napping can be broken down into few stages:

  1. A short power nap of 10-20 minutes is good for a quick improvement of your alertness and energy level and will enable you to get back to work quickly.
  2. A nap of about 30 minutes will provide you a mental sharpness similar to the 10-20 minute nap, with that sharpness lasting a bit longer, but the downside is that people tend to feel groggy immediately after this kind of nap.
  3. A longer nap of 60 minutes is good to process cognitive memory (such as faces, names and facts), but the downside is some grogginess upon waking.
  4. A long nap of 90 or more – this can provide you a full sleep cycle which improves procedural memory (such as riding a bike or playing the piano) and creativity. Waking up after it usually has minimal amount of grogginess.

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Longer naps can work too

  • A 20-minute snooze can enhance alertness
  • Limit the nap to 45 minutes if you need to spring into action on waking
  • A 60-minute nap improves alertness for 10 hours
  • Naps of 90-120 minutes encompass all stages of sleep and help clear the mind

By : Jennifer Ackerman, author of Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body

You don’t need to take brain supplements to boost your health. All you need to do is to nap.


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