The Actually Healthy Power Nap

Medically reviewed by Gregg Jacobs, PhD
April 21st, 2020

Everyone knows how good a power nap can feel, but did you know how natural and effective a power nap is?

 

Human Body Is Built To Nap

According to Goodpath sleep expert and Harvard Medical School professor, Dr. Gregg Jacobs, the brain is designed for naps due to a biological readiness to fall asleep in the afternoon that coincides with reduced alertness and performance (circadian dip in alertness). 

 

This is because human sleep is intended to be bi-phasic (two periods of sleep): nighttime sleep and an afternoon nap. Naps also provide energy conservation and restoration of energy expenditure.

 

That’s right, the human body is designed to take naps!

 

 

Naps Make Business Better

Some cultures already embrace the concept of power naps. There is the tradition of the siesta in Spain or in China, people take an hour break midday to rest. In Japan, ‘Inemuri’ means napping while present and is seen as a sign of hard work. There is also the concept of “fear sleep” in Indonesia where people can fall asleep instantly to deal with heightened anxiety and stress.

 

Beyond culture though, the effectiveness of power naps is so strong that many corporations have started building nap rooms in their offices. Companies and organizations like Google, NASA, and Ben & Jerry’s invest in napping architecture like napping pods to support their employees getting a quick nap break.

 

Businesses encourage employees to take naps because naps help improve performance. Naps work whether someone is already sleep deprived or not. If sleep deprived, naps improve alertness, psycho-motor performance, and reaction time by reducing fatigue and sleepiness. If not sleep deprived, power naps still provide mood and energy benefits if taken in the afternoon due to circadian dip in alertness in mid-afternoon.

 

Power Naps Are Powerful

The effects of power naps are disproportionate to their length, relative to nighttime sleep. 

 

Sleep plays a crucial role in memory consolidation for skills and material learned during the day. Naps provide the same memory consolidation benefits but more efficiently and perhaps even better than nighttime sleep because they occur closer to learning episodes. 

 

Napping is more effective than caffeine and more effective than extra nocturnal sleep for improving performance. Furthermore, many people can’t or don’t want to extend nighttime sleep or can’t if they have insomnia. Naps are a solution.

 

Tips for Perfect Power Napping

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your power nap:

 

  • Keep it short. Ideal nap length is 10-20 minutes to avoid nap inertia and to make them practical.

  • Nap smart. Nap efficiently using deep relaxation techniques. See one of our favorites below. Goodpath also provides many more in its sleep programs .

  • Environment matters. The best nap occurs in space designed to support it: 

    • Go to a quiet room

    • Lie down on a recliner or bed

    • Dim the lights or wear eye shades

    • Listen to calming music, white noise, or a deep relaxation

 

Now that you are stuck working at home, take the opportunity to enjoy a power nap. Improve your productivity, mood, and simply enjoy the feeling of a great nap!

 

For more information about sleep, access our free insomnia guidance and stress management at our Learn Center.

 

Click here to start a personalized sleep program today.