The art and science of napping
We all remember the good old days in kindergarten where napping was a required part of our daily activities. Nowadays, we are lucky enough just to hit the “snooze” button one extra time in the morning.
In the hustle-and-bustle of our everyday lives—working, going to school, or a frenetic mixture of the two—naps take a backseat.
In recent years however, researchers have explored, and in many cases proven, that napping can actually be beneficial to add to your daily schedule. Naps can help enhance your creativity, raise your intelligence, and can even add to your overall quality of health and wellness.
Here are some general guidelines to getting the most out of a midday snooze:
When to nap
For most people, sometime in the early afternoon is a good window to take a nap. As biologically biphasic sleepers, humans do most of their sleeping at night, but most people’s brains undergo a dip in alertness somewhere between 1–4 p.m.
How long to nap
As mentioned by The Wall Street Journal, napping is a fascinating blend of art and science. Professionals in the field suggest a 10–20 minute power nap has the most benefits. However, different durations of napping have different effects on the mind and body:
“For a quick boost of alertness, experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap is adequate for getting back to work in a pinch.
For cognitive memory processing, however, a 60-minute nap may do more good, Dr. Mednick said. Including slow-wave sleep helps with remembering facts, places and faces. The downside: some grogginess upon waking.
Finally, the 90-minute nap will likely involve a full cycle of sleep, which aids creativity and emotional and procedural memory, such as learning how to ride a bike. Waking up after REM sleep usually means a minimal amount of sleep inertia, Dr. Mednick said.”
Not everyone has the ability to squeeze in a power nap during the day. Even though naps can be a great daily accessory, it is important to remember that a good night’s sleep plays a pivotal role in our overall health and well-being.
Check out our health resource on sleep for helpful tips on how to catch Zzz’s.