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Benefits of Power Naps – Siesta

FACT : 20 minutes of mid day napping is more beneficial than 20 minute more sleep in the morning Body becomes tired after 8 hours of waking up.

Think About it. We sleep  8 hours a day and work efficiently for the first half of our day. What if we could take a half an our days break and get the second half of the day equally efficient. That’s what power naps do to us. Doing it right is key. Too long or too short a power nap and you have the chances of ruining the benefits altogether or you may not just get the right effect from it. If you nap longer, chances are you will feel groggy and irritable for a few minutes, but there are benefits and ill effects, both , of napping longer. Let’s discuss some of the benefits of napping , in general. Now for this section, we are choosing to keep the nap time to a bit less than 30 minutes. The optimum time for a good nap is between 10-20 minutes.

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  1. Enhances Cognitive Ability & Alertness : Cognitive abilities range from attention span, memory, reasoning and a lot more. Overall, you can expect to learn more, absorb better and be attentive. Your reasoning skills will be a lot better when your mind is fresh. Chances of you making a mistake are high when you are mentally or physically tired. You lose focus and are unable to concentrate when your mind is not as focused. Some people take a walk , others get a coffee but A nap, works better or at least just as any other process to jump start your brain and lasts longer.
  2. Improves Learning Memory : a Part of cognitive ability,  Your learning memory is the ability to grasp new information. May it be from a book, A class or a video. If you are watching or  listening, chances are that you are learning. But most people are not as alert and learn less when they are tired. A boring lecture could put you to sleep easily. If you Nap before a lecture or a meeting, there is evidence that you would be more confident, absorb better and the lesson will be memorised far better than if you were tired.
  3. Prevents Stress : Not many people understand stress. We dedicate stress to lack of money, Conditions in relationship or family, Health conditions in general of our own or loved ones, Work and other factors. Small things like rest adds up to stress. If you are stressed out, chances are you are already in need of some rest. You may have not had the rest required because your mind is always on stress. Relax for a while. Take a 15 minute nap and look at the same problem after. Chances are you will have a different attitude to the problem and your stress level will decrease. Your stress level is almost always an indication of your inability to cope with a situation. You need to take a fresh look at the situation and you can do it only by moving away from the problem for a short while. Take a nap. 
  4. Boosts mood : If i had to boost my mood I would do one of the 3 things. Drink a liter of water OR Go for a run and sweat it out OR Take a Nap or go to bed altogether. Nothing feels better than sleep but its not always a good option. A nap on the other hand takes only 15 minutes and you can expect it to go a lot better after that. Kids are usually grumpy without the afternoon naps and you can find them crying and nagging if they don’t get it. It’s the same with adults too, just that our reactions are a bit different. At the end of the day, your mood is just not right and you could get a short nap to get it cleared.
  5. Improves Creativity: Personally i work best early in the morning. 4 am to 8 am is the best time for me. I design websites, write and Do most of the Non repetitive work during those hours. I avoid reading, and going through my daily accounts , checking my email during those first few hours. Its the same after a nap. A Nap Followed by a coffee gives me wings, For a short while. I can work quite well on things which I hate. Accounts. Finance. Learning things which is really not what I want to do but I am forced to do. And its during these hours that i get creative with things which wouldn’t have been creative about without a nap. I would rather shut the computer down and go for a walk if I did not get my nap. 
  6. Helps Productivity : Productivity increases a good 33% after a nap. Everyone knows that its the lousy 3 hours of work after lunch at my office. Lunch is over by 2 and till 5 i can see everyone just doing nothing productive. The energy is gone. People are drowsy after lunch and no amount of coffee or yelling from the boss is going to change things. A quick nap usually gives you more energy to continue for at least 2 and a half hours. Imagine being 30% productive in the second half vs 63% productive in the second half. Personally, I would prefer getting a nap and will ensure that my staff and colleagues got one too in the second half. 
  7. Lowers Risk of Heart disease : There is a very thin line between naps and heart diseases. While some research does show that the heart benefits from a short nap in the noon, there are others which indicate that heart attacks could increase if a person already has a heart condition and they nap regularly. It’s hard to say that its good or bad but if you not have a heart condition already, we think it’s a good idea that you get a nap after your mid day meal. 15 minutes of siesta could actually help your heart.
  8. Reduce Accidents : Accidents in general, not just road accidents, but accidents at work, if you are working with machinery or even if you are working in a factory. Chances of preventing accidents just because your mind is tired is high. Getting a short nap will prevent you from making a bad decision, Sending unwanted texts and accidents in the workplace and on the road. Accidents on road 37% of accidents were reportedly caused because the driver fell asleep. That’s a very high percentage, Higher than DUI. Get a nap Now. Reduce accidents.
  9. Enhance Performance : Its Not just productivity but also Performance that you can increase. Physical or mental performance increases after a short nap. Expect to complete tasks much faster and easily after a short nap. A task which would take 2-3 hours can be completed in less than an hour, often times less than half an hour. Physical tasks could be done with precision and better posture. Your gym routine would be much more pleasant after a nap and you can expect to do those workouts in the right posture.
  10. Scheduled Naps For Narcolepsy : Narcolepsy or daytime sleepiness is often dedicated to poor sleep at night. A short nap of 15 minutes could gear you up for the next 2 and a half hour and if you could repeat the process every 4 hours, you can expect a much better day than if you would try to counter it with other measures including caffeine. Also note that longer than 20 minutes of nap would create problems in your sleep cycle making it harder to get to sleep at night. This in turn will create more problems with narcolepsy . Its important to watch your naps, specially if you are suffering from narcolepsy. Never nap for more than 20 minutes.
  11. boost immune function : Sleeping enables a lot of changes to our body. Most of our recovery happens from sleep. A doctors recommendation to sleep when you are ill is to speed up the process of recovery. A nap is just as beneficial for our body to recover from the burn out during the first half our day. Recovering involves repair of the cells that are damaged and also getting your immune system spiked to help the recovery process. You will see a boost in your immune system after a short nap and this will last a few hours. Chances are you will counter most of your smaller health issues faster and feel a lot better after a short nap. Yes it does fight from many health problems.
  12. Prevents Cell Damage : The Science daily  indicates how sleep loss can cause cell damage. A Short nap during the day can prevent cell damage and there is enough science behind the process. You can expect to look and feel younger, speed up recovery if you are ill , especially if you have lung, liver and issues in the small intestine.
  13. Boosts Testosterone : Expect to be more energetic and this is due to the higher testosterone levels after a short nap. Its often noticed that you feel far more energetic after a short nap. Most people who feel low and tired have a lower testosterone levels. You just need to take a short nap and see the spike in testosterone levels, just enough to perform for a good 2-3 hours. Add a short run to it and you will have a wonderful evening with spiked endorphin too.
  14. Helps Lose WEight : Most people think that too much sleep is going to increase your weight. This is not always true. People who sleep less tend to go hungry because they are tired. Most people who are sleep deprived tend to eat more often or in more quantity. This increases your chance of gaining weight and also being tired. Sleep manages and balances a lot of your bodily functions and needs including your metabolism. With lack of sleep you can expect your bodily functions to go haywire and feel hungry more often. Take a short nap when you are tired and eat what is required. 
  15. Look Younger : Its called Beauty Sleep for a reason. Naps help rebuild cells and repairs cell damage. Naps Reduces aging significantly and getting a good nap everyday and making it habitual is a good idea. An article on Healthline explains how Your sleep affects your skin and looks. Without sleep you can expect your skin to look dull. Sleep disorders can make you older fast and vice versa is true if you sleep well and take naps when needed. If you cannot make it a habit, at least ensure that you get naps When needed. 
  16. Improve Sex Life :  While its true that Sleep makes you sleepy, its also true that enough sleep can improve or increase your sex drive. If you are not in a mood, its probably because you are tired and you haven’t had enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can be one of the few reasons you don’t feel like doing “it”. Get enough sleep and improve your sex life and also your relationship.  A detailed article on how sex and sleep are closely intertwined can be read Now.

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A study on Military pilots and astronauts at NASA found an improvement in performance by 34% and alertness to a 100% with a 40 minute nap.

A 1995 Research by Nasa found a 26 minute Nap to be the most effective improving alertness by 54% and performance By 34%

The Sleep Medicine And Research Center on their research  looked at effectiveness of caffeine and taking naps for people on night shifts. The result concluded that Naps and Caffeine Both were effective in improving alertness and performance in night shift works but the combination of both had the best benefits

Negative Effects of Napping

pet-bedSleep Inertia: Naps are great but if you do it wrong then you risk feeling a lot worse. Apart from the fact that you really don’t want to get off from your nap, the chances are that if you nap too short (less than 10 minutes), you don’t benefit at all and if you sleep a little longer (more than 30 minutes) you feel Groggy. If you feel groggy chances are that it will last up to half an hour to get out of the sleep “hangover”. You will feel a lot better after half an hour and a coffee could boost your performance after the nap.

May affect night time sleep : This is one of the biggest concerns in nappers. If you sleep for more than 30 minutes, you end up in the second or third phase of your sleep which activates your REM and chances are its going to mess your Circadian rhythm and your night sleep cycle. Nap for 20 minutes. The sweet spot is 26 minutes.

Some indications of Heart failure for those already at risk : This is not really proven but research indicates people who already have a heart condition should avoid habitual napping.

FACT : Albert Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a night, plus daytime naps.

Stigmas Related to Napping

While naps are considered good for health lately and a lot of new benefits are researched, its not a well accepted practice especially in places of work and business. Many companies think that napping at work is a sign of poor performance even today. Some of the big corporates though are turning this practice positively and encouraging people to nap when they are tired. The japanese have a term for sleeping at work and its called inemuri which translates to “sleeping while present”. Employees are allowed to nap while at work because they understand the increase in performance levels after the nap, but yes there is a stigma in many companies and cultures which believe napping indicates Laziness, Lack of ambition and more. This is most common in people in the demographics of 10-55. Many believe that only children and elders are the only one who need a nap. In reality, anyone , at any age could benefit a lot by a short 15 minute nap once or twice a day.

Types of Nap

Naps fall under 3 major categories and yes there is a fourth kind which is Just for Fun Nap. Just as the name explains, you nap because you just want to nap. But most people nap for a purpose and its either to get some bene