First let’s define a power nap versus a nap?
A nap is a light sleep especially during the day. Wait a minute, isn’t that what we do when power napping?
Yes, that’s about right but not exactly.
The twist is, with power nap there must be an intention to get revitalized and the duration of a nap shouldn’t be more than 20 minutes. So the power nap definition should look like – a light sleep within the first 20 minutes especially during the day intended to revitalize the subject.
Such a subtle difference is kind of nonsensical or funny at best but looking at it deeply we see a bit of sense. For instance when you nap for the sake of a nap, you might get revitalized but you won’t think of saying “I need a power nap” before you nap. However, you can get away with saying I power napped after the nap if you felt revitalized.
Ok let’s forget about the jargon and look at the types of naps.
Types of Naps.
There are many categories of naps and each category has a number of types therein documented over the years. In this article, we will only look at the two common categories floating around. These are:
- Duration based category: The types herein are based on the duration of nap. Generally most researchers agree that a power nap should be anywhere between 5 minutes to 30 minutes.
- Stage based category: The types herein are based on our sleep patterns. some researchers talk about sleep and naps in terms of stages. These stages are determined by what is happening in our bodies during the nap.
Duration based power naps.
In this category there are four types of naps. Although we said by definition power nap should only be called so if they were within the first 20 minutes. Ideally speaking many people refer to any naps upto 60 minutes as power naps.
The 10 to 20 minute power nap (The true Power Nap)
The true power nap can actually be divided into two based on the research published on the Forbes Magazine . The 10 minute nap and the 20 minute nap. Anything under 10 minutes proved to have negative benefits.
The 10 Minute Power Nap
It was shown through research published on Forbes magazine that the 10 minute power nap produced immediate improvements in all outcome measures – sleep latency, subjective sleepiness, cognitive performance, fatigue and vigor. The resulting benefits could last upto 155 minutes after the nap.
The 20 Minute Power Nap
Improvements in all outcome measures could be seen 35 minutes after the nap and lasted for up to 125 minutes.
The 30 Minute Power Nap
This nap resulted to periods of impaired alertness immediately after the nap indicating sleep inertia. This was later followed by improvements lasting up to 155 minutes.
Anything over 30 minutes is hardly considered a power nap.
Stages of sleep and naps
The stages of sleep can easily be linked to the duration of sleep as each stage happens after a certain duration of time.
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) also known as stage five.
It usually happens 90 minutes after one sleeps. The heatbeat and breathing quickens. Intense dreams take place in this stage since the brain is more active.
It is also referred to as the dreaming phase and it is believed to help creativity, perception, memory and complex learning.
Non REM nap.
There three stages on Non REM sleep.
Slow wave sleep also known as stages 3 and 4
This is characterised by a deep sleep, so it’s difficult to wake up. If woken up one might experience groginess or disorientation for a few minutes.
At this stage our bodies restore tissues while our brain delete unnecessary information. According to some research, it is also said during this stage the brain flushes out most toxins including the toxins associated to Alzheimer.
Stage two sleep.
In this stage one is in a light sleep. The heart rate slows down and the body temperature drops.
A nap at this stage is said to boost alertness and motor skills. Fatigued drivers need this kind of nap so it is also know as driver’s best friend.
Stage one sleep.
This is a dozing wake stage or the early stages of sleeping where one is in two worlds – the sleepy world and the waky world. It lasts about 5 to 10 minutes. The eyes are closed but but it’s easy to be woken up. Not much is known as to the benefits of this stage.
Demerits of Naps
Groginess. This is the disorientation feeling we get after a nap. The longer you napped the longer the groginess.
Fatigue. Too much napping or unnecessary napping will actually cause fatigue rather than alleviate fatigue. If the body is alert, a nap would only result to the body getting sluggish.
Sleeping late. Napping affects our body clocks. That means if we nap during the day chances are we might not get sleep as soon as we wanted in the evening.
Sleep disorders. Napping can mess up someone’s sleep pattern leading to sleep disorders such as insomnia or apnea.
Health benefits of Napping
A 1995 Nasa study found that a 26 minute nap improved performance 34% and alertness 54%. Other studies also have shown that workers who break up with a nap are alert and energetic in the later part of the day as they were in the first part.
Naps help fend off heart diseases. This was based from the results of a study of more than 23,000 Greek adults published on the Washington post.
A separate study published on ABC news also showed that only thinking of a nap or preparing for one, lowers our blood pressures slightly.
Improves patience and tolerance (mood).
One study published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences showed that people who take naps have a higher tolerance of induced stressed or annoyance just like toddlers.
It helps in learning memory.
Some researchers in Germany found that an hour long nap improves performance five folds. 41 volunteers were asked to remember some words then they were split into two groups. One group was asked to take an hour nap and one group was asked to watch a DVD. After one hour the nappers performed five times better than the DVD group.
If you are reading up to this point, I believe you know the answer to the question “are power naps good or bad?” If your answer is good, then let’s take one more step to explore how to hack a nap at work.
Hacking a nap at work – like an Ostrich in the desert
Unless you are working at companies like Google that provides sleeping pods and a bunch of napping spots for it’s employees, you might find sneaking a nap at work place very challenging.
Don’t lose heart though, there are a number of ideas on how to sneak a nap in a nappers unfriendly work place. These are:
- Nap in your car in case you commute by car.
- Nap in the conference room if there is one.
- Nap in the toilet if you don’t mind the unpleasant smell.
- Nap under your desk if you don’t mind looking like a pervert.
- Nap under on your desk if you won’t drool on your desk.
As you can tell except for the first two ideas most of the above solutions won’t work for most of us.
Read more to find out napping solutions for nappers unfriendly environments
The Ostrich Pillow.
In the spirit of providing a good napping environment a small group of creative minds calling themselves Studio Banana came up with a brilliant idea inspired by the Ostrich in 2012.
They came up with a pillow that offers a micro environment in which to take a comfortable nap and they called it Ostrich Pillow. The pillow is like a mask with three holes, two holes for the ears and can also be used as openings to insert one’s arms when sleeping on the desk and the third hole is on the no mouth and nostril area to allow for breathing.
How the Ostrich Pillow works
The Ostrich Pillow Mini
Once the Ostrich pillow was launched, it didn’t take long for the guys behind it to notice that there was a need of a lady product that won’t mess much with ladies’ hair.
The Mini Ostrich Pillow is designed to fit snugly on one arm covering the whole wrist to provide a mini pillow good for ladies.
How the Ostrich Pillow Mini works
With these two bizarre pillows for men and women that could help any of us get the most out of a power nap, this concludes this post. If you have any power nap hacks or any comments please write them down below this article.
I am looking forward to reading your comments.