The Power of the Power Nap

You may be reading this and you have had a big day already. You feel wiped….and its only 3pm! That wonderful afternoon time period where you hit the wall, feel foggy and seek some sugar. You think a sleep would be great but 10-30 minutes isn’t enough. You probably also think doing this makes you seem weak or people will judge you when everyone else seems to get their afternoon wonder cape on and just soldiers on with the day.

Well 10-30 minutes of zzzzz’s is all you need I promise – and I’m testimony to the fact it does work! More than 85% of all Mammalian species sleep a few times throughout their day. Yet humans sleep once a day. Whether we should be doing this or not has yet to be scientifically proven, but in the modern world we live in with our minds constantly being stimulated and the busy lives we lead, one thing is clear – we are definitely not getting enough sleep.

So start saying hello to the power nap.

Start recognising and building it into your life as a healthy habit because it is one. Just 10-30 minutes is all you need to reset the switch for the rest of your day. I’m an early riser and have a pretty long day. I found a few years ago I was really struggling by the afternoon period particularly at that time as a solo parent. The night time period was a struggle to get through. Like everything I have learnt over my years of maintaining a healthy weight and as a Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Practitioner, I read up about ways to improve this situation and power napping was one of the things I came across and came to understand. So I started to incorporate it into my life by choice and now it is a daily habit (with the exception of the odd day where I can’t have one and boy do I feel it!). I met my partner and to my delight I discovered that he also has a quick 20 minute power nap when he gets home from his day before he heads off to the gym and how beneficial he also found it – hence had been doing it for a long time.  What a bonus this was because I didn’t have to justify or be judged by him Hooray!

We actually have 5 sleep cycles that last around 90 minutes (so really we only need about 7.5 hours of sleep per night). The first 2 sleep cycles are still in the light phases which is why if you nap and wake in these you don’t get ‘sleep inertia’ which is that horrible state you find yourself in when you have slept too long and you're all groggy and can’t shake the feeling off for ages upon rising. A study done in 2008 showed that power napping is even better than caffeine. Just a short 10-30 minutes of resting your eyes has been proven to:

  • Boost your brain – improves logical reasoning, verbal memory, our reaction time, creative problem solving

  • Improves motor skills and perceptual learning

  • Improves our mood and feelings of sleepiness and fatigue

  • Is good for weight management as we often seek carbohydrates and sugar when we are tired

  • Is good for our heart, blood pressure and overall stress levels

There are different types of naps: The Habitual nap – you have it every day at the same time. The Emergency nap – you really hit the wall. Find a spot, shut your eyes and just have a quick 10 minutes. The Preemptive nap – where you have it every day but you get your head down before you feel sleepy so its daily but the time may vary. The Appetitive nap – My favourite! The one on the weekend where you just have it because its awesome to curl up in your bed all snugged up for a bit and let the world go by. We all know that regular exercise and eating healthy food is important for us but there are so many other things that also help us to be healthy, productive and actually enjoy life. And a power nap is one of them. So give it a try – I’m sure you will become hooked just like I did and live the rest of your days with a zing in your afternoon step rather than dragging your feet with the vision of bedtime seeming so far away.

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