Need a boost to get through your day? turns out you can actually use napping to give yourself a significant brain power boost during the day, and it’s great for your overall health too!

Many rely on caffeine to have enough energy throughout their day, but the effects of caffeine are mostly misleading. For some, it’s second nature to reach for a cup of coffee. However, in actuality, caffeine can decrease memory ability and productivity.

There’s a much healthier approach to boosting energy and it’s none other than the “power nap.” Most of us love a good nap, but we are now beginning to more fully understand the positive effects on the brain. Why do we have it culturally ingrained in us that napping is to be frowned upon?

Did you know that 85 percent of all mammals typically sleep more than once a day? Scientists have not agreed upon why human beings are monophasic (sleeping only once a day.) Some say that it is a culturally learned trait while others believe it is more inherent in human beings. Whatever the case, the positive effects of being polyphasic (sleeping more than once a day) are worth exploring.

People have long understood the recharging ability of a good nap; in fact, many people depend on them to get through their day.

Are you looking to improve your mental clarity and creativity? Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed by the stressors of the day and you desire something that will reboot the brain in order to make better decisions. Napping is a popular way to recharge, and sometimes this activity can boost a person’s productivity more than a full night’s sleep does. There are definitely some things to know though for the best results.

How long is the perfect nap?

Most experts agree that taking too long of a nap has a negative effect on the mind and body. If naps last longer than 30 minutes, it typically has a more negative effect on the one napping.

This is because after 30 minutes the body goes into a state of deep sleep and as a result it is harder to wake up from a nap. They say you should never interrupt yourself from a deep sleep, so keep your napping to about half an hour or less.

Scientists say that 10-20 minutes is the perfect amount of time for a nap. They have concluded that a 10-20 minute nap will boost energy enough for a person to get through the next 3-4 hours. However, slow wave sleep, or napping from 30-60 minutes, can increase vocabulary and memorization skills. If a nap lasts longer than 90 minutes, it is considered REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and this is most helpful for improving connections in the brain and for increased creativity.

How much sleep is really needed at night?

Is it necessary to get more than seven hours of sleep each night? Many scientists now say that more than seven hours of sleep each night is no longer recommended. The power nap reduces the need for more hours of sleep each night which works better for the rhythm in the lives of some people.

Lack of sleep leads to a number of health ailments. Some of these negative effects include the following: obesity, high blood pressure, depression, ADD, heart attacks—among many other illnesses. In contrast, the positive effects of getting enough sleep are well recorded. They include an overall decrease in stress in addition to boosted creativity and productivity. And who wouldn’t want that?

What are the benefits of a nap?

When having a stressful day, a power nap can help a person function in better ways. We’ve all had the experience of getting overwhelmed and stressed and not being able to make decisions effectively. A short nap can help in significant ways.

After a brief snooze, a person can wake up more able to tackle problems effectively. It gives the body a chance to recuperate and come back ready to see the world with more clarity. A 15-20 minute nap—sometimes called a Stage 2 nap—before a significant event increases the likelihood of optimal performance.

These brief periods of sleep can be taken at any time during the day, but it’s important to be mindful of not napping too long. Anything beyond the recommended 10-20 minutes will further drain the body and the message sent to the brain is that the body then needs a full night’s sleep. However, 60-90 minute naps can sometimes be useful for cognitive abilities when the body needs deeper rest. This is a complete cycle and will enhance memory and creativity.

Tips For a Great Nap

After a certain age, most adults can no longer pull all-nighters the way they once did without experiencing significant difficulties the next day. So, many have started setting their alarms throughout the day in order to combat fatigue. The most popular time to take a nap is right after lunch, but they can happen at any time.

Sitting up while napping is recommended for maximum effect. This is because it will help prevent going into a deeper sleep cycle. If you find yourself dreaming during a short nap, it’s usually a sign of sleep deprivation. If this is the case, it may be time to reevaluate the whole sleep cycle. Of course, power naps cannot replace regular deep sleep.

It’s important to find a good spot for napping. Power naps can be taken most anywhere. They can be taken at the library or while riding public transportation or most anywhere else.

When is the best time? Most people take them after lunch, but this is far from the only possibility. Right after getting home from work before cooking dinner is  great time to take a nap. Be creative!

If problems with noise arise, a solution could be using headphones with soothing music. You might even want to invest in earplugs or an eye mask to keep at the office. The possibilities are endless and all that it takes is a little experimentation to find out what works best for you.

Powernapping during work

Napping at work remains a controversial subject. Not surprisingly, some people view it as lazy and therefore an unacceptable practice in the workplace. As the benefits of napping become better understood, some of this is changing.

Culturally, we tend to overvalue the illusion of constant productivity. As workers we are often invested in appearing productive rather than actually being productive. As a result, people who participate in healthy activities such as taking brief walks and naps are frequently looked down upon in the work environment. The Japanese even have a word for strategic napping: inemuri. Roughly translated, this means “sleeping while present.”

Fortunately, some forward thinking companies (such as Google) are beginning to see the positive effects of napping on employees. Some companies are even setting up accommodations for employees to take short naps throughout the day. For instance, companies like MetroNaps are being hired to install sleeping pods in universities and work organizations.

We hope that these tips will help in increasing energy and vitality levels. The body of research indisputably suggests that there are a myriad of positive benefits from napping throughout the day. May you benefit and happy napping!