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A Quick Guide to the Perfect Power Nap

by BetterSleep
May 4 2019 • 4 min read

Ask any parent of a toddler and they’ll tell you about the amazing powers of naps.

“My kid power napped in the car for five minutes and he was miraculously re-charged for five more hours.''

-Any parent of a toddler

So if a power nap works for a two-year-old, can it do the same for an exhausted adult?

According to decades of research, yes. The power nap – when done efficiently - is a great tool for recharging and reversing the effects of poor sleep. Let’s take a journey to explore the science behind the perfect power nap.

The mighty benefits of the power nap

In a perfect world, a solid seven to eight hours of deep sleep would happen nightly. However, life often throws curve balls that can interfere with a good night’s rest. It’s at these times we’re thankful for the noble researchers that study the science behind power napping. Because it turns out that when life gives you exhaustion, power naps are your friend.

In a study done on nighttime emergency department physicians and nurses, 3 am power naps were shown to improve alertness and performance. Another study demonstrated that power naps were equal to, and even better than caffeine, to enhance motor learning (skills involving physical coordination like serving a tennis ball) and memory.

Perhaps the best news of all is that power napping can counter the ill effects of sleep deprivation on the body. A 2015 study from the Université Paris Descartes found that a mere 30-minute nap reversed the hormonal and immunological effects of poor sleep in otherwise healthy subjects.

Though power napping isn’t a substitute for a solid night’s sleep, it’s helpful to know how to take one for a quick boost of energy that won’t disrupt your regular sleep pattern. We’ve put together three tips to give you the most effective nap.

Keys to taking the perfect power nap

1. Find the ideal time and length for your schedule

Making sure your power nap fits into your schedule will help you relax and get the most out of this abbreviated sleep time. Naps shorter than 30 minutes are most helpful. Any longer and you run the risk of falling into deep sleep, making it more difficult to wake up and throwing off your nighttime sleep routine.

2. Create a peaceful sleep environment

Find a quiet and secluded spot to take your nap. If you’re in a noisy environment, you can use relaxing sounds on the BetterSleep app to block out external noise. You can also add a guided sleep meditation to help you get to sleep quickly. If the room is bright, use a sleep mask to block the light and create a nighttime environment for your mind.

3. Set an alarm to wake up on time

Eliminate any stress about oversleeping by setting a timer to wake you up at your allotted time gently. Not only will this allow you to relax into sleep more quickly, but you will also nap just long enough to feel sufficiently recharged.

Five potted plants and cactus with flowers

Even though it’s not always possible to get quality sleep at night, there’s a valuable lesson to be had from the power napping toddler in the car. When you power nap: commit to it, do it in a relaxing environment, and wake up sooner rather than later. If you follow these steps, you’ll have the power to take on the rest of your day with much more energy.

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