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Is Power Napping Good for You?

Woman power napping at her home office desk.

If you are an adult who loves a daytime nap, you’re not alone. Whether you’ve had a late night the night before, are going out in the coming evening, need to overcome the mid-afternoon slump, or just love a “little lie down” during the day, taking a nap can be incredibly refreshing – but only if you do it right. This is where the concept of power napping comes in. 

The tendency to nap is common (and rarely entirely voluntary!) in childhood but declines in adulthood. It begins to peak again from middle age and is very common among the elderly.  Biologically, however, we all experience a natural increase in daytime drowsiness approximately eight hours after waking – which generally coincides with early to mid-afternoon. This urge to sleep during the day is known as the “sleep drive” and results from the buildup of the neurotransmitter adenosine in the brain. Scientifically, this suggests that the human body is designed to nap.

Be careful! Daytime napping should be limited to only a short power nap.

It’s important to understand that taking a short, refreshing nap is very different from having a long, deep, daytime sleep. If you sleep for too long, or too deeply, you are likely to wake from your afternoon snooze feeling worse than if you’d not had a sleep at all – you may feel dazed, spacey, groggy, moody, and even unwell.  Taking a short nap can very effectively improve alertness and re-energise you; sleeping for too long or waking at the wrong stage in the sleep cycle, however, can be counterproductive. 

What is a Power Nap?

A power nap is a short daytime sleep that exploits your natural sleep cycle. A fantastic way to refresh your mind and give yourself a boost to navigate the mid-afternoon slump, it can also help to make up for a late night the night before. 

The natural human sleep cycle involves stages of both light and deep sleep. A full cycle (falling asleep, light sleep, deeper sleep, dreaming sleep, and transitioning back out of sleep) lasts for approximately ninety minutes. 

A short nap that enables you to only enter a light stage of sleep prevents the likelihood that you’ll wake feeling groggy. A long nap that lets you enter deep or dreaming sleep will quite possibly see you wake feeling dazed, off-kilter, cranky, or even queasy or headachey.

The perfect power nap will last between ten and thirty minutes – no longer! This will provide you with the benefits of sleep without any of the drawbacks – and you will not feel dazed or groggy when you wake up.

Power Napping Benefits

Many of the world’s warmer climate countries traditionally recognise the benefits of napping and have cemented the practice into their societies in the form of “siesta”. Spain, Italy, Mexico, Greece, Nigeria, The Philippines, and others see their citizens stop work, pause schooling, shutter shops, and take a collective break for a nap for an hour (or longer) during the hottest part of the day.  

Power napping offers several health benefits:

  • Feeling refreshed and re-energised
  • Heightened alertness
  • Improved memory and concentration
  • Reduced fatigue 
  • Enhanced performance
  • Decreased reaction times and better safety outcomes in the workplace and on the road (particularly for shift workers)
  • Mood improvements
  • Improved cardiac (heart) health

NASA pilots, elite athletes, shift workers, and many others have been proven to experience better performance and recovery through power napping. 

Research conducted by NASA has demonstrated that when pilots slept for twenty-six minutes, they experienced a 54% improvement in alertness and a 34% improvement in job performance.  

Power napping is also shown to eliminate microsleeps, which are incredibly dangerous when driving or operating machinery.

The Ideal Power Nap 

A refreshing power nap can effectively improve concentration, alertness, mood, and performance. The key to this lies in its timing.

Taken in the early to mid-afternoon and for no longer than thirty minutes at most, a power nap shouldn’t interfere with the quality or duration of your nighttime sleep. 

Occasionally, a longer nap can be beneficial (e.g., after a late night). You must time it so that you wake at the end of a sleep cycle. This is when sleep is lighter and you are ready to wake up naturally; it requires sleeping for around ninety minutes.

Long daytime naps of more than thirty minutes regularly are not good for health outcomes, and this habit has been linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and other health issues and could signify an underlying health condition. It’s also important to note that if you suffer from insomnia at night, you should avoid napping during the day.

Tips for Napping Well

  • Nap between 1 and 3 pm so that you don’t interfere with your nighttime sleep.
  • Set aside fifteen to thirty minutes for your nap, in a place where you will not be disturbed.
  • Silence or mute notifications on phones and other electronic devices for the duration of your nap. Use earplugs if you need to.
  • Set a gentle alarm on your phone or wristwatch to ensure that you do not sleep longer than thirty minutes.
  • Lie down or recline somewhere comfortable (bed, couch, recliner chair, etc) and close blinds, shutters, or shades to darken the room. Use an eye mask if it helps.
  • A coffee nap can be beneficial! Have a cup of caffeinated coffee immediately before your nap; the caffeine you consume should kick in just as it’s time for you to wake up.How does this help? Caffeine combined with a power nap has been scientifically shown to improve alertness and mental acuity as a result of its action on the adenosine (mentioned above), which influences feelings of sleepiness.
  • When you wake from your nap, be sure to expose yourself to bright light or sunshine (natural light is best) and splash cool water on your face if you need to. Have a drink of water or a cup of tea or coffee. Taking a short, brisk walk is also a good idea.

Improve Your Sleep Quality – Use ApneaRx

Power naps are great – but they can’t counteract chronic sleep deprivation. Optimising your nighttime sleep is very important.

Is snoring interrupting your sleep at night? Reducing or stopping snoring will improve the quality of your sleep at night as well as your health, mood, alertness, performance, and well-being.

ApneaRx can help you! This popular and highly effective anti-snoring solution is both affordable and easy to use. A patented mandibular advancement device, ApneaRx (an NZ brand) is used by people all over the world with much success. Worn in the mouth, it works by gently moving the lower jaw slightly forward during sleep and effectively opening the airways to prevent the anatomical cause of snoring. 

Experience the difference for yourself! 

 Understand better how ApneaRx works and shop online for yours today.