The Power Of A ‘Power Nap’…But How Long Is Best?

I defy any person who say's they don’t get a little weary in the workplace from time to time, no matter how much you love your job, hours of concentration can and does take its toll on your ability to concentrate and stay energised. Clearly a worksite isn’t conducive to napping, no doubt the foreman and site manager would have a thing or to say about that. In fact, napping in the office is frowned upon by many, how many offices do you walk into and see people slumped in slumber over their desks…not many successful ones that’s for sure! Truth is, we could all do with 40 winks from time to time, but it’s really not done anywhere near enough as it could, or perhaps even should be.

Know your ‘naps’ from your ‘sleeps’

An out and out sleep is loosely defined as a period of shut eye of more than 90 minutes. Sleeping for longer than 90 minutes causes the body to enter what is known as a ‘deep sleep’, which is effectively a full cycle of sleep which include both the lighter and deeper stages of sleep. The deeper stages of sleep might include the phenomenon that is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) characterised by the rapid saccadic movement of the eyes. The irony of REM is that the brains neuron activity is actually the same as the neuron activity during waking hours. REM is a period of time that captures many of the dreams we have i.e. our dreams are most prominent during this time. REM occurs during the lighter stages of sleep meaning people who wake during this time often feel rejuvenated and awake…interesting when considering what nap duration is best for you.

10-20 min power nap

This duration is widely agreed to be beneficial at increasing alertness and energy. This duration will bring you to the cusp of REM, but you will not enter it completely…this is known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM). The fact that you don’t enter REM means people usually wake in a ‘ready to go’ frame of mind.

30 min power nap

This is when things get interesting as some people claim a 30min nap leaves them feeling somewhat lethargic, likened to the feelings of a hangover. This phenomenon is known as sleep inertia and can make you feel a little groggy for at least 30mins after. Once the inertia wears off however, people report feeling re-energised and ready to go again.

60 min nap

This duration of sleep includes something known as slow-wave sleep, which is the deepest form of sleep. A 60min nap might also leave you feeling groggy after, but this type of nap is great for remembering facts, faces and names.

90 min nap

A 90min sleep is considered a full cycle of sleep which includes both the lighter and deeper stages of sleep, including REM. A full sleep cycle can increase procedural memory, so a memory that is pretty well instilled in your mind through practice and repetition e.g. riding a bike or playing a musical instrument. Many people waking up from a 90min sleep report improvements in their creativity as well as minimal lethargy and grogginess…bonus!

Sources

Healthy and Natural world, (2014). The perfect nap length for the biggest brain benefits. Retrieved 15th April, 2014, from http://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/the-perfect-nap-length-for-the-biggest-brain-benefits/

Science Daily, (2014). Rapid eye movement. Retrieved 15th April, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/r/rapid_eye_movement.htm

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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