We all love naps, they’re just the perfect fast-energy boosters we need to make it through a long and exhausting day. But you’ve probably noticed that sometimes when you wake up after a nap you feel even more tired than before while sometimes you’re full of energy. Why does this happen? Well, Dr. Michael Breus says that all we need is a 30-minute nap, if we sleep for longer than 30 minutes we go into a deep sleep state which is why we find it difficult to wake up afterward. This longer nap usually makes us feel worse than before.
Naps Benefit Your Brain
Now that we know that a nap shouldn’t last longer than 30 minutes let’s talk about how the ideal nap can actually boost your brain power. Napping is for your brain what a reboot is for your PC. You know when the computer feels sluggish and doesn’t function optimally so you reboot it and it goes back to its old self. Well, the brain is pretty similar, a nap shuts your brain down for a bit and brings it back up, re-energized and ready for new challenges.
According to experts, a power nap of 15-30 minutes is just what your brain needs to restore its vital functions and its alertness, especially when you’re in a race against time. And what’s even better you can take advantage of the power of naps anytime you want, after work, throughout the day, before an important meeting or some difficult task ahead.
If you want to maximize your awake time a research into your sleeping cycles is something you should read up. Studies have shown that you can minimize your sleep time and still function properly just by adding a few naps throughout the day. You still need to take the night sleep and then take a few 15-20 minutes naps throughout the day and you should feel full of energy all day long. You’ll increase your mental clarity, be more alert and be able to go for another 3-4 hours without problems.
Once you start practicing this new sleep cycle you may notice that you feel less alert towards the end of the day in the beginning. This is just your body getting used to the changes, it’s called the transition cycle. You may even feel that your brain isn’t getting the sufficient amount of deep sleep. If you feel this way, experts suggest introducing some longer, 1-hour naps which will boost your cognitive power and alertness. Experts also suggest 90-minute naps (which is a full sleep cycle) to improve your procedural and emotional memory and boost creativity.
How Long Should Naps With a Purpose Last?
Studies show that extra short and short naps can increase your cognitive ability and alertness compared to not napping at all. But there are different nap times for different purposes, depending on what you expect to gain from your short energy boosting routine.
If you feel like you need a quick reboot you should nap for 5-25 minutes
If you feel like you need a deep sleep regeneration you should nap for 60-90 minutes.
If you decide shorter naps are more your thing it would be a good idea to position yourself sitting up slightly so that you don’t fall into a deeper sleep cycle. If you catch yourself dreaming during these short naps you may be sleep deprived and should sleep more during the night.