Despite the importance of getting a good night’s rest, millions of Americans find themselves struggling to sleep the recommended seven or eight hours they need. Feeling sleep deprived can make functioning the next day extremely difficult, as a person’s concentration and energy levels tend to fall well short of their daily demands. To make up for their inability to concentrate or muster much energy, many people turn towards caffeine and energy drinks and supplements to help power them through the day. While these types of beverages and products can offer a short-term solution, they can also cause late afternoon crashes that can make dealing with fatigue the rest of the day even more difficult.
In recent years, more research has started to uncover that the best way to deal with sleep deprivation isn’t by taking stimulants, it’s by taking a nap. By making napping part of your regular daily routine, you can avoid feeling the affects of fatigue and become more productive throughout the day.
Sleep Deprivation and Napping
The best way to deal with feeling sleep deprived is by taking naps during the daytime. While you might think that if you don’t have time to get enough sleep at night there’s no way you can find the time to nap, think again. Your body can receive incredible benefits just from napping 15 to 20 minutes a day. Even such a brief nap will allow the body to reset, providing you with an immediate burst of alertness and increased motor control. The two things you need most to ward of feeling sleepy and sluggish.
While short naps can provide assistance, longer naps pay even greater dividends. Studies have found that the longer you nap, the more of a boost you’ll receive to both memory and creativity. Naps that last between 30 to 60 minutes- so called slow-wave sleep- can boost decision making, improve your ability to remember directions, and help with memorizing vocabulary. Longer naps, those that last between 60 and 90 minutes, have been shown to help improve a person’s ability to make connections in the brain and with creative problem solving.
Coffee Versus Napping
When deciding whether to take a short nap or drink a cup of coffee instead, keep in mind that while coffee may improve alertness the beverage also reduces memory performance. So while you might feel more alert and energetic following a cup of coffee, you’re also more prone to make a mistake when working on complex problems. If you can find the time and a comfortable spot, you should always consider taking a nap over drinking coffee.
Tips for Napping
Studies have found that in addition to improving memory function and increasing energy levels, regular napping can also help reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and reduce stress levels. To get the most out of the time you have to nap, keep the following tips in mind:
- Stay consistent. Keep a consistent napping schedule you adhere to each day. The best time to find an opportunity to nap usually falls around midday, between the hours of 1 to 3 p.m.
- Make it brief. Napping for any longer than 30 minutes in the middle of the day runs the risk of you waking up groggy unless you have the time to complete an entire sleep cycle, which takes around 90 minutes. By limiting your naps to 30 minutes or less the body only reaches light sleep, which will help you feel refreshed without feeling groggy when waking.
- Find the dark. Napping in a darken room or wearing an sleep mask will help you fall asleep more quickly, and the sooner you fall asleep the more rest you’ll get out of your 30 minute nap.
- Get cozy. Make sure you take a nap in a room with a comfortable temperature. Trying to sleep in a room that’s either too hot or cold can make falling asleep more difficult.
Timothy Lemke is a freelance health and science writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of API/AMA, a CNC machining Portland shop.