How to Incorporate Power Naps into Your Routine

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Power Naps: A Guide to Getting More Shut-Eye

Some of the most well-known companies and organizations, such as Google, Nike, and NASA, have realized that napping can help increase productivity.

That's why many are investing in naps and turning conference spaces into bedrooms.

The idea that napping is only for preschoolers is simply not true.

In fact, naps offer a wide variety of health benefits, from helping to relieve stress to increasing alertness.

But how, exactly, should you add naps to your daily schedule? Check out this guide below to find out how you can get a little more sleep.

The benefits of power naps

A good nap allows for the recovery of brain function, memory consolidation, elimination of toxins that accumulate throughout the day, and a burst of energy, says Camilo A. Ruiz, DO, medical director of Choice Physicians Sleep Center in southern California, Florida.

“There is an impulse to seek sleep at some point in the day,” he says. As this process unfolds, it gets the better of you and puts you to sleep at night.

"The idea of the nap is that we can reset that trigger and hopefully we can function at a higher level," adds Ruiz.

In sleep-deprived people, research suggests that naps increase alertness, work performance, and learning ability, adds Dr. Dasgupta. Other research has found that naps can even help boost immune function.

Should you take naps?

Not everyone needs to take a nap. For one, people with insomnia shouldn't nap, explains Michael Breus, Ph.D., a board-certified sleep specialist based in Manhattan Beach, California.

If you have insomnia, naps during the day can end up making you feel like you don't need as much sleep at night, which could worsen your condition.

"If you're getting good, restful sleep and functioning well during the day, you probably don't need to take a nap," adds Dasgupta.

But here's the rub: More than a third of Americans don't get the recommended seven hours of sleep a night. So you may not be sleeping as well as you think.

To perfect the power nap, you have to perfect your timing. An oft-cited 1995 NASA study found that a 26-minute nap was the "sweet spot" for a nap, improving alertness by 54% and performance by 34%.

However, experts tend to agree that 20-30 minutes is enough to get the benefits without feeling groggy when you wake up. And don't forget to set an alarm so you don't pass that window.

Ways to Incorporate Naps into Your Routine

1. Create the perfect nap area

A dark, cool, and quiet bedroom is ideal for sleeping, Dasgupta says. If you can't control light, temperature, or noise on your own, Dasgupta suggests wearing a sleep mask, removing extra layers like sweaters, and considering a white noise app.

You'll also want to avoid interruptions, which might mean putting the phone down for a few minutes or putting an old-fashioned "do not disturb" sign on the door.

2. Choose a good time

Between 1 p.m. m. and 3 p.m. m., the body temperature drops and there is an increase in the levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. That combination makes you sleepy, so it's a good time to nap, Breus explains.

Although you generally don't want to nap after 3 or 4 in the afternoon. It can negatively affect how well you sleep that night - if you're a night owl, a quick nap at 5 p.m. m. or 6 p.m. m. can help you in the early afternoon, adds Ruiz.

Ruiz also points out that taking a nap an hour or two before something important—a public speaking event or a demanding task at work—can promote alertness and cognitive engagement.

3. Consider caffeine

The idea of taking a sip of coffee before bed may seem counterintuitive, but since caffeine takes 20 to 30 minutes to kick in, drinking some stimulants before taking a nap allows you to wake up feeling refreshed. explains Dasgupta.

4. If you work shifts, set a naps routine

If you're a doctor, nurse, or firefighter, or work in another job that requires a non-average 9 to 5 hours, your sleep may be interrupted. Taking advantage of the downtime to work on a few naps can help make your sleep more regular.

"If you're constantly deprived of sleep, taking a nap on a schedule can help your body get used to it," Dasgupta says.

You will learn to anticipate a nap between 1:20 p.m. m. and 1:40 p.m. m., for example, and you'll be able to reboot your body and brain while getting more regular sleep.

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