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A nap is defined as a short period of sleep, usually taken during the day.  

Research shows that, by taking a nap, you can make yourself more alert, reduce stress, and improve cognitive function. An afternoon nap, or a ‘power nap’, means more patience, less stress, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency, and better health.

Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of sleep and how a power nap can help you!

The Benefits of a Power Nap

Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning (though the last two hours of morning sleep have special benefits of their own). The body seems to be designed for this, as most people’s bodies naturally become more tired in the afternoon, about 8 hours after we wake up.

How Long Should I Nap?

One significant factor responsible for the varied effects of naps is their length. Anytime we fall asleep, we begin to move through a series of sleep stages. Researchers found that five-minute naps are too short to move deep enough through sleep stages to produce a notable benefit. On the other hand, sleeping for 30 minutes or longer gives the body enough time to enter deep (slow-wave) sleep.

Naps lasting 10 to 20 minutes are considered the ideal length. They are sometimes referred to as “power naps” because they provide recovery benefits without leaving the napper feeling sleepy afterward.

How to Take the Best Nap

Taking a few key steps will set you up for your most successful nap.

  1. Set an alarm: Studies show that the best nap length for most people is about 10-20 minutes. This provides restorative sleep without drowsiness after waking. If you want to feel alert and productive after your nap, you can counter sleep inertia by limiting the amount of time you spend asleep.
  2. Nap early: Napping late in the day can affect your ability to fall asleep at bedtime. Try napping around the halfway point between the time you wake up and the time you plan to go to bed.
  3. Create a sleep-friendly environment: To fall asleep, your space should be conducive to napping. Depending on where you are, you may or may not have a comfortable mattress available, but it helps to nap in a comfortable space that is dark, cool, and quiet.
  4. Set aside your worries: Ruminating on sources of stress will keep you awake. If you’re having trouble letting go of concerns and to-do lists, try practicing relaxation exercises. These can help you fall asleep and wake from your nap feeling refreshed and recharged.
  5. Reflect on why you’re napping: Think about what you hope to gain from your nap. When you set intentions, you can plan your nap around those goals.

Enjoy your power nap!

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