Top 5 Benefits Of Power Naps
Ever thought about taking a quick nap during the day? It's not just about feeling refreshed. In fact, short naps can do wonders for our health and mood. In this article, we'll explore the top five reasons why power naps are more beneficial than you might think. We will touch upon fatigue, physical performance, work-life performance, and more.
What is a nap?
A nap is a short period of sleep, typically taken during the day. Unlike a full night's rest, naps usually last from a few minutes to a couple of hours. They can help people feel refreshed, especially when they haven't had enough sleep the night before or when they need a quick energy boost during the day.
Why would someone take a nap?
People choose to take naps for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the primary reasons why someone might opt for a nap:
To gain energy: A quick nap can replenish energy levels, especially in the afternoon when many experience a natural dip in alertness.
To catch up on lost sleep: If someone hasn't had a sufficient amount of sleep the previous night, a nap can help counteract feelings of fatigue.
To improve performance: Athletes might nap to enhance physical recovery, while students might do so to refresh before studying or revising.
To prepare for future lost sleep: Some people may choose to have a nap if they know that they are going to be missing out on sleep in the near future.
To manage certain conditions: Napping can be a useful tool for people who suffer from certain conditions that affect sleep, such as insomnia.
Video: Why you should nap more
Sleep Is The Foundation have put together a useful video to explain the benefit of power naps and what you should do and shouldn't do when it comes to napping. Watch it below:
Can naps reduce fatigue?
Yes, research suggests that naps can help reduce fatigue. Napping, especially during night shifts, has been explored as a potential strategy to alleviate fatigue and promote well-being among professionals like nurses (van Woerkom, 2021). Research suggests that nurses who took two short naps during a night shift experienced a reduction in fatigue and stress levels (Oriyama et al, 2014). It should be noted however that several factors can affect the efficacy of napping. Factors such as nap duration, environment, and the act of resting versus sleeping play crucial roles in determining the overall effectiveness of napping.
Boost physical performance
Can naps boost physical performance?
A mid-day nap can either enhance or replenish aspects of exercise and cognitive performance. This is especially the case after a regular night's sleep or after experiencing sleep loss. Athletes might also find perceptual benefits from napping, which can be crucial before or during exercise (Botonis et al, 2021). As well as this, a daytime nap appears to have potential benefits in aiding the recovery process and mitigating the detrimental effects of partial sleep deprivation on both physical and cognitive abilities (Souabni et al, 2021).
Reduce cardiovascular problems
Can naps reduce cardiovascular problems?
Taking a nap might do more than just rejuvenate your energy levels; it could potentially reduce cardiovascular problems as well. Recent findings suggest that short naps are linked to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (Yamada et al, 2015). This is particularly true of longer naps. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, longer naps, especially those lasting an hour or more, “have been linked with obesity and increased cardiovascular disease risks.”
Boost performance at work
Can naps boost work performance?
Based on recent studies, napping does appear to offer benefits that can boost performance, especially when considering athletic endeavours. Athletes are advised to take naps that last between 20 to 90 minutes, ideally during the early to mid-afternoon window (between 13:00 and 16:00 hours) (Lastella et al, 2021). Napping, particularly in the afternoon, can have a positive effect on cognitive performance in all people, enhancing aspects like alertness for up to two hours after the nap. This is particularly noticeable when the nap is taken early in the afternoon (Dutheil et al, 2021).
Can naps reduce stress?
Yes, believe it or not, a nap can help to relieve stress. A 25-min, 35-min and 45-min nap opportunity can help to decrease subjective fatigue, sleep, and stress (Boukhris et al, 2020). Introducing two short-term naps during the morning can serve as an effective strategy to mitigate such stress (Oriyama et al, 2014).
Is there an optimal nap time?
A recent study, encompassing 22 trials and 291 male participants aged 18-35, offers insights into this query. When participants napped between 12:30 hours and 16:50 hours — with 14:00 hours emerging as the most frequent choice — there were notable improvements observed in cognitive and physical performance. The most pronounced benefits were associated with nap durations spanning 30 to just under 60 minutes. (Núñez de Arenas-Arroyo et al, 2023). This is also supported by another study which suggests having a nap after your lunch can help boost cognitive and physical performance. However, the same study suggested that getting a longer nap, around an hour and a half, is better than a shorter nap (Boukhris et al, 2020).
Are there any cons to napping?
While daytime naps, especially those less than 30 minutes, can boost wakefulness, enhance performance, and aid learning, they are not without potential drawbacks. A study conducted in 2006 suggested that naps exceeding 30 minutes can lead to a decline in productivity and induce sleep inertia, a groggy feeling that can persist upon waking (Dhand et al, 2006). Despite this, other evidence suggests that longer naps can actually improve cognitive and physical performance.