Are power naps beneficial? Here are some ways to incorporate them into your daily life | The Financial Express*

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While power naps are short, it is not a substitute for sleeping. “Naps are short breaks that help you feel re-energised.

Are power naps beneficial? Here are some ways to incorporate them into your daily lifeAn ancient practice in hot climates and as research has advanced, it is believed that a 30-minute power nap is a vital tool in a businessman’s arsenal in maintaining focus, memory, and maintaining energy, therefore greater mind-body balance.

Power nap or afternoon sleep is a mental recharge rather than physical. The concept has existed in various cultures since time immemorial. For instance, people in some parts of India and European countries follow this ritual either to rest, come home or spend time with the family.

Incidentally, power naps have several health benefits, too. According to Luke Coutinho, holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach and founder of You Care – All About You by Luke Coutinho, “Power naps can help with memory retention, increasing alertness, and normalising blood pressure. It is good to boost mood as well as help individuals who have slept late at night.”

It is also scientifically proven that elevated legs help blood flow and promote faster sleep. A retired US Navy Seal, Jocko Willink, in an article in The Guardian suggests eight minutes as the ideal nap time as one wakes up rested, without feeling groggy.

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While power naps are short, it is not a substitute for sleeping. “Naps are short breaks that help you feel re-energised. A short nap can help you feel less sleepy, and research shows that you are more alert; it reduces stress and improves cognitive functioning. Mid-day sleep, or a ‘power nap’, means more patience, less stress, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency and better health,” says Dr Deepak Namjoshi, pulmonologist and cardiologist, CritiCare Asia Multispecialty Hospital & Research Center, Mumbai, who quotes Winston Churchill: “We were not made by nature to work, or even to play, from eight o’ clock in the morning till midnight. We ought to break our days and our marches into two.”

What is interesting is that during the sleep cycle, we move through different phases—some deep, some light. Dr Arpana Ramakrishnan, consultant, psychiatry, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai, says, “A full sleep cycle typically lasts for about 90 minutes. Longer naps can produce more sleep inertia as you wake up in the deeper stages of sleep or in REM (rapid eye movement)—a stage of sleep associated with dreaming and memory consolidation. Hence, power naps are recommended during the day as they are short, refreshing and take advantage of our natural sleep cycle. A power nap prompts us to wake up in Stage1 or 2 of the sleep cycle, which are the lighter stages.”

As per Ramakrishnan, the best time for a nap depends upon shifts and working hours of an individual and naps after 4 pm. “These aren’t recommended for people working in the day as it may interfere with night sleep. Power naps are especially helpful if you are sleep deprived,” says Ramakrishnan.

Repair time

An ancient practice in hot climates and as research has advanced, it is believed that a 30-minute power nap is a vital tool in a businessman’s arsenal in maintaining focus, memory, and maintaining energy, therefore greater mind-body balance.

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However, lack of good sleep has become one of the leading causes of illness in modern times. If the body does not get the time to repair then the mind, body and soul is disturbed which may later result into a disease. Nilesh Kumar, spa and wellness custodian, Moksha Himalaya Spa Resort, Himachal Pradesh, says, “Take a 30-minute power nap simply by lying down or sitting in a chair, with windows open to allow fresh air, if available, to permeate the room, bergamot pillow or room sprays to create a therapeutic aromatic environment in which to recharge batteries and awaken refreshed and ready for the challenges ahead. For some, closing their eyes and shutting out the world for 30 minutes has a dramatic effect on their personal and professional well-being.”

Power nap also combats fatigue and achieves incredible health gains, says Dr Sanjay Khanjode, wellness consultant, Fazlani Natures Nest in Lonavala, “Power naps are physically restorative. It will enhance cognitive skills, ability to innovate and energy levels. Deviating from a workplace culture of ‘more, larger, quicker’, encouraging employees to take a 30-minute power nap, makes them more physically balanced, emotionally stable, and productive for the following three hours later in the day.”

For a therapeutic nap, add essential oils in a diffuser, place it in the bedroom, at least one hour prior to taking a power nap. Colin Gary Hall, a spa and well-being advisor, says, “Once ready to sleep, turn off the diffuser as an overload of essential oil molecules can awaken rather than calm.” Hall adds that two drops of lavender (lavandula angustifolia) and drop of bergamot (citrus bergamia) are essential oil with molecules that will permeate the air and can be inhaled reaching the bloodstream making the power nap much more effective.

However, Coutinho warns that power nap should not be used as an excuse to miss out on night sleep as the benefits of night sleep are unmatched, and afternoon power nap cannot replace it.

An afternoon siesta is only powerful on the condition that they are of a maximum of 30-40 minutes. Sleeping beyond that will make you reach a state of deep sleep, and waking up from that could make you groggy and irritable. It also interferes with your night-time sleep. If you have been taking siesta for a long time and it is an integral part of your daily life, then maintain this habit. Take a power nap at the same time every day as it is about setting a rhythm in your body,” says Coutinho.

Besides, ensure you sleep in a dark environment, use an eye mask, or simply roll a towel or a T-shirt and place it on the eyes. “This will help you sleep faster. However, you must also know that the constant need to take an afternoon power nap can indicate your body is not getting the proper rest at night. If this is the case for your siesta, you must fix your night-time sleep. Giving the mind and body the rest but the healing benefits such as detoxification, rejuvenation, and secretion of growth repair hormones come at only nighttime,” adds Coutinho.

NAPPING TIPS

  • Keep the room cool and dark or wear an eye mask to block out light
  • Follow a consistent nap schedule around 2 or 3 pm
  • Keep it short to avoid feeling groggy

BENEFITS OF POWER NAP

  • Improvement in understanding, comprehension, learning and memory, especially short-term
  • Power nap can boost the immune system and reduce stress. It also encourages the body to eat ideally
  • Better stress management— power nap helps unwind and reduce tension (physical and emotional)
  • An observational study found that napping one or two times a week was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular problems. However, more research is required in this area
  • Power nap makes you feel relaxed, reduces fatigue and increases alertness and performance, such as by increasing reaction time. It also regulates blood pressure and helps in overcoming daytime drowsiness and fatigue. It has a restorative effect on the body and mind. It is particularly beneficial for shift workers who have irregular sleep schedules
  • Insufficient sleep affects appetite. Napping, which reduces sleep deprivation, can lead to regulation of appetite-related hormones and hence help in weight management

Dos & Don’ts

  • Do set an alarm for 10 minutes to ensure you wake up feeling alert instead of feeling tired
  • Don’t consume caffeine after 3 pm as it can disrupt sleep
  • Don’t nap too close to nighttime sleep. A good rule of thumb is to nap at the midpoint between the time you wake up and the time you go to bed
  • Find the right spot to rest

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