4 Reasons Why Naps are Great for Your Brain.
Sleep is of enormous importance to our brain and overall health.
No matter how healthy you eat, how much you exercise, and whatever supplements you take, if you are not getting a full 7-9 hours sleep, your health will be affected, and so will be your cognitive abilities. Sleep not only helps us rest, it also carries out important functions like solidifying learning and long term memory which the waking brain doesn’t have time to do.
But in our extremely busy day-to-day life, sleep is often the one thing that is neglected most. While making time for a full night of sleep should be ideal, it might not be possible always to prioritize sleep over work, especially when you have responsibilities.
Naps can be your go-to option for a quick rest and recharge in these extreme cases. Sleep experts have long extolled the virtues of power naps in-between work. Even if you are not sleep-deprived, taking a little nap for a designated amount of time sitting on your desk can give you an extra boost of energy and focus to get through your day. And if you are not getting enough sleep at night, naps are simply life-savers.
March 11th is celebrated as National Napping Day in the US. We take this opportunity to talk about the ways taking short naps can improve your brain functions and general productivity.
If a task is too complicated and proving frustrating, maybe it’s time to take a nap. Taking a slightly long nap – about 30-90 minutes – has been found to increase patience and perseverance with particularly difficult and complicated tasks.
Working on long and time-consuming projects can make your brain foggy, and after a point, it becomes really difficult to concentrate on the work itself. Taking a short nap can work wonders at refocusing your mind and bringing your alertness back. 40 minute naps are great for this, but even a 10-20 minute nap can make you feel a lot more focused.
Hour-long naps are great for memory processing, so if you are in the middle of learning something, maybe take the hour off. 60 minutes naps will typically include deep, slow-wave sleep. Your brain processes learnt information and solidifies long-term memories at this stage of sleep, so including this stage in your nap routine will help you with memorizing names, places, facts, and also faces. However, you may experience some grogginess or sleep inertia while waking up from a 60 minute nap, since at that time you’d ideally be in the deepest stage of sleep.
If you need to get your creative juices flowing, the 90 minute nap is a great exercise. It involves the full cycle of sleeping, including slow wave non-dream state and the later REM dream state. This stage strengthens your emotional and procedural memory, boosts your problem solving capacities, and promotes creative thinking. Naturally, people who include the REM stage in their naps have been found to be more imaginative and better at problem solving than those who do not.
Sleep is essential for your well-being, both physically and mentally. Naps are the next best thing. If you have a super-busy lifestyle and a lot of responsibilities, incorporating a few controlled naps can make a huge difference to your health, productivity, and overall quality of life. So, fear not, and nap away!