Napping and sleeping are different, although they are synonyms in the English dictionary. When you understand the difference, the benefits are just a step away.
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Surprisingly there is little research about sleep studies; however, today, that is changing. Now we see many people talking about napping, and it’s benefits. For example, as firms like Google, Zappos, and NASA encourage a napping culture at work, the topic has become even more popular.
What Are Napping And Sleeping?
That said, sleeping is quite different from napping.
Sleep is a state where the eyes are closed, the postural muscles relax, and consciousness is practically suspended.
Napping, however, is the act of lying down with the intent to calm your body and mind to achieve rest and recovery.
The Difference Between Napping and Sleeping.
So unlike sleep, which lasts several hours, a nap is a short repose and can last anywhere between 1 to 20 minutes. Any duration of rest longer than 20 minutes begins the sleep cycle.
Now: there are two types of sleep – REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and Non-REM sleep.
Non-REM sleep lasts from 5 to 15 minutes, during which the body’s temperature and the heart rate drops. This stage of sleep is a prelude to longer, deeper sleep that occurs in the REM cycle. During non-REM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissue, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.
REM sleep, however, lasts longer, up to 90 minutes in most cases. During this sleep cycle, people dream because the brain is most active at this point. According to WebMD, babies spend 50% of their sleep in the REM stage than 20% among adults.
When we take naps, we enter a non-REM sleep period, short enough to give our body rest and not too long that it starts a sleep cycle. When we sleep for more than 20 minutes, we create a REM cycle, which is why you sometimes feel groggy and disoriented after a half-hour or 45-minute repose. You were interrupting a sleep cycle that was supposed to last 90 minutes. It is also called a state of sleep inertia.
Experts highly recommend a 20 minute or 10-minute nap. Usually, in a sitting position, the objective is not to sleep but to get restful sleep. They are also called power naps, a great way to improve concentration, productivity, alertness, and mood.
The Benefits Of Napping
Did you know that Salvatore Dali, Thomas Edison, and Beethoven all took power naps in the afternoon? They were some of history’s most creative and innovative minds. Studies have shown that short naps improve productivity, alertness, and mood.
Boosts Productivity –
According to a study by NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts, a 40-minute nap improved 34% and alertness by 100%.
Experts on sleep from the Mayo Foundation have recommended a 20-minute siesta for cat-nappers. That is enough time for your body temperature to fall and heart rate to slow down. You are giving your mind time to recharge and recuperate. A power nap is a great way to stay fresh during a stressful day.
Experts also recommend it more than drinking coffee because of its long term effect on your body. Power naps are like non-REM sleep, helping your body repair tissues and strengthen your immune system.
Reduced Chances Of A Drowsy Driving Crash –
Experts recommend that drivers take a short nap when they feel tired. Researchers at the Sleep Medicine and Research Center found that a combination of caffeine and napping improved alertness and performance among night shift workers. It takes 30 minutes for the coffee to have its effect. Therefore, drinking it just before a nap will help you feel refreshed.
Reduces Stress And Boosts Creativity –
Napping has other benefits besides increased performance. Since a short nap reduces blood pressure as the heart rate slows. It helps to improve mood and reduces stress. However, in case of stressful situations it helps solve problems and think creatively. Winston Churchill, Ronald Regan, Leonardo DaVinci, Aristotle, Albert Einstein, Margret Thatcher, John F Kennedy, and Bill Clinton have all used the creative benefits of napping.
Helps Improve Learning Abilities –
Napping can also help learn new concepts, skills, and languages faster. Taking naps in between studying or learning a new concept pushes information from short term to long term memory. In 2006, the Biological Physiology study separated participants into two groups; they gave each group a nap before a reading task. They noted that habitual nappers performed better on reading and retention tasks. It’s attributed it to improving synthesized motor learning, a process of learning a new skill.
Napping Improves Memory –
Napping is also a great way to improve memory. A study by Neurobiology of Learning and Memory in 2010 on the effects of napping and memory retention found that a nap helped retain associative memory. The ability to make connections between unrelated objects is known as associative memory. In their study, those who took a 90-minute nap performed better than those who did not, which confirms that memory and learning ability improved with naps.
On the other hand, you have to remember that these benefits only come with napping the right way.
Napping And Sleeping – Napping The Correct Way
Experts recommend taking naps between 2 and 3 pm because the body’s productivity naturally dips at that point of the day.
A nap that lasts longer than 20 to 30 minutes will result in sleep inertia. Since the body has begun a sleep cycle, that when broken makes you feel disoriented
That’s the reason why taking a nap the right way is more important. It’s less about sleeping and more about resting your body.
Salvador Dali was famous for his naps. He would sit in a chair and hold a key in his hand, below which would be a plate. As he is close to a deep slumber, the key falls onto the plate, waking him up. It indicates the perfect balance between deep sleep and restful sleep. He would often wake up with a new idea.
Note To Remember
While this article extensively covers napping benefits, experts don’t recommend it to people suffering from a sleeping disorder. Some people may even find that taking naps interferes with their natural sleeping habits. Unless someone has a diagnosed sleeping disorder taking power naps is highly recommended. Many experts prescribe scheduled naps as a treatment for narcolepsy (a type of sleeping disorder).
So the next time you feel stressed or overworked, sit down and take a short 10-20 minute nap. For better, results drink a cup of coffee before your power nap.
Also, see – 3 Killer Power Nap Tips You Will Love This Year
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