A power nap can help boost your energy levels and refresh your mind. Research has shown that a power nap is much better than no nap, as it enhances cognitive abilities and alertness. It has also been found to have important health benefits.
A recent case study followed adults who took 1-2 naps per week. It found that over a period of 8 years, these same individuals had a lower risk of heart disease and strokes than those who didn't nap.
The health benefits of napping
- Memory improvement
- Enhance cognitive function
- Increased creativity
- Beneficial for the heart
- Reduces stress
However, it is important not to nap for longer than 30 mins. Otherwise you may struggle to awaken or struggle to sleep at night. Research has shown 10 - 20 minutes are considered the ideal length.
What are the stages of sleep?
Light rest, between being awake and asleep. 1-5 mins
We detach from our surroundings and real sleep kicks in. A drop in temperature, relaxed muscles, and slowed breathing and heart rate. At the same time, brain waves show a new pattern and eye movement stops. 10-25 mins
Deep sleep. Muscle tone, pulse, and breathing rate decrease as the body relaxes. This allows the body to recover and produce muscle growth. Your body uses deep sleep to strengthen your immunity to fight off illness and infection. Even though brain activity is reduced, deep sleep contributes to insightful thinking, creativity and memory. 20-40 mins
Known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, or known as active sleep or paradoxical sleep. Like stage 3, memory consolidation also happens during REM sleep. However, it is thought that REM sleep is when emotions and emotional memories are processed and stored. 90 mins
The Homeostatic Sleep Drive
We all have a homeostatic sleep drive, which is a technical term for the feeling of pressure to sleep. When we wake up from a good night’s sleep, your homeostatic sleep drive is low, this then builds up in our body until bedtime, when we feel sleepy. Power naps can help decrease the homeostatic sleep drive, making us feel more awake, helping to reduce feelings of fatigue and improve chemo brain.
It is important to remember that our body produces a higher drive for sleep under some circumstances. For example, when the immune system is fighting an infection it produces more immune mediators, which cause more sleepiness. Furthermore, cognitively stimulating or demanding experiences (such as treatment or scans) could increase sleep pressure further. As a result, our sleep may be longer and deeper after those experiences.
The best way to take a nap
1. Set a Alarm
The best nap length for most people is about 10-20 minutes. But if you have had a demanding day your body may need longer to recover. Always listen to your body.
2. Nap Early
Napping late in the day can affect your ability to fall asleep at night. 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
If you are struggling to rest due to anxiety, create a safe space. Surround your bed with photos that remind you of positive experiences and use aromatherapy.
4. Deep Breathing
Try doing some deep breathing exercises if you are having trouble setting your worries aside.
For more tips and tricks read - 'Simple Techniques to Improve Fatigue'