The idea that you should be sacrificing sleep to meet your goals and to get more done is incredibly harmful and counter productive; in reality napping and catching up on sleep could be the single best thing you could do to become more productive and achieve more.
Because most of us rarely get sufficient sleep, taking a nap midway through your day can become one of your best tools to stay productive and alert throughout the day.
The Benefits of Napping and Sufficient Sleep
General benefits of napping and getting sufficient sleep include:
- Improvements in Concentration levels & Lengthens your attention span - When we get insufficient sleep, our energy levels are significantly reduced throughout the day; this means we don't have the required mental energy to stay focused on just one task. Therefore by taking time to nap and get more sleep, we're increasing our energy levels which allows us to stay focused for longer periods of time.
- Strengthens your memory - When we're asleep the brain makes sense of all the information we processed throughout the day and organises it; it also helps to convert short term memories into long term memories. Therefore by taking time out of the day to nap, we're allowing our brains to process more information - making our memories more vivid.
- Helps to maintain a Healthy Weight - Various studies have found that being sleep deprived can be detrimental to maintaining a healthy weight. This is down to it being incredibly hard to control your appetite and resist cravings when you're low on energy. This means that consistent napping can be incredibly beneficial if you're trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
- Keeps your Immune System Strong - Getting sufficient sleep means you're allowing your body time to rest itself and repair. In the time we spend sleeping, our body is producing proteins and cells to identify and eliminate anything harmful within our body such as virus cells. Therefore by napping, we are directly strengthening our immune system.
Drawbacks of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Not getting sufficient sleep can affect your mental health, physical health and overall happiness. Some of the most common effects of not getting sufficient sleep are:
- Decreased Alertness
- Lower Mood Levels - i.e. more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety
- A decline in their ability to memorise
- A weakened immune system
How to Nap Effectively
It's incredibly important to know how to nap properly, otherwise you may find yourself struggling to fall asleep or waking up groggy because you napped for too long. Check out the steps below to ensure you nap effectively.
1. Account for the time you need to fall asleep
If you're planning to take a nap, make sure you factor in the time it takes for you to actually fall asleep; this usually takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes.
So if you're planning to nap for 30 minutes and it takes you at least 10 minutes to fall asleep, make sure you factor in at least 40 minutes for rest.
If you don't already know how long it takes you to fall asleep, the next time you go to sleep try making a mental note of roughly how long it takes you to fall asleep.
2. Ensure you're in an appropriate environment to nap
There are 3 factors which determine the quality of your sleeping environment, these are:
- How dark your environment is
- The temperature of your environment
- The noise levels in your environment
For the majority of us, we're going to find it easier to get to sleep if we're in a dark environment. This is because one of the factors which determines our body clock is the darkness of our environment, therefore when we're in a dark environment our body starts to recognise that it's time to fall asleep.
As for the temperature of your sleeping environment, this is largely going to come down to your own personal preferences. Most of us will find the ideal sleeping temperatures to be anywhere between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius.
Lastly, as you probably already know, loud noises tend to wake us up and disturb our sleep. Therefore, to ensure our sleep is not disturbed, try to make sure that your sleeping environment is as peaceful as possible.
3. Don't sleep for too long
It's likely that we've all suffered from sleep inertia at some point in our lives; if you're wondering what sleep inertia is, it's when you wake up from a nap feeling groggy and even more tired than you were before your nap.
The reason why we suffer from sleep inertia is usually down to us napping for too long. When we nap for too long, we start to fall into the deep stages of sleep and then when it's time to wake up our bodies desperately want to continue to get some REM sleep.
To ensure you don't suffer from sleep inertia, there are 2 options.
Option 1 is to nap for short periods so you don't fall into the deep stages of sleep; this could be anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.
Option 2 is to sleep in 90 minute cycles. This is because the length of one sleep cycle (both light and deep stages of sleep) is 90 minutes. Waking up after a full sleep cycle should ensure that you wake up feeling fresh and ready to be productive.
Hopefully this short guide on the powers of napping will inspire you get into the habit of consistently napping. Not only will you become more productive but you'll also benefit from better physical and mental health.