Do power naps actually work?

September 22, 2020 5 mins read
Do power naps actually work?

Do power naps work? Considering some of the greatest minds in history like Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci all scheduled in a regular afternoon kip, then clearly a power nap has its benefits. But should it be a part of your daily routine? Let’s explore.

What are the different types of naps?

There are different types of naps that help you achieve various sleep benefits. Power naps vary from regular napping or daytime sleep in that they are brief, 15-minute recharges that increase your mental alertness. Dubbed the “busy people nap,” power naps work to give you a quick energy boost.

A regular nap of 20-30 minutes long will help you catch up on sleep from the night before and relieve tiredness caused by disturbed rest, work stress and late nights.

Daytime sleep is reserved for night-shifters, new parents, first-year students and anyone who isn’t able to get a full night’s sleep. These 90-minute naps give you just about the same benefits of an 8-hour sleep (note: nothing can compare to a full night’s sleep) as you go through a full sleep cycle, allowing your brain to wake up fully refreshed.

Are power naps really that effective? 

Simply, yes. Not only have historic geniuses benefitted from daily naps, but global corporations like Nike, Google and Uber (to name a few) are also following suit by giving their employees access to on-site napping pods. Power naps reboot your energy levels, recalibrate your short and long term memory and aid in sustaining your mental awareness.

Where a power nap is a great solution for a busy brain, the benefit of longer naps also cannot be ignored. If you have time for a 30-minute lie-down, you will be able to alleviate the fatigue that comes with a high-paced life. Not only do longer naps nip sleepiness in the bud, but they combine all the benefits of a power nap too.

How long should my power nap be?

Understanding what happens in your sleep will help you get the most out of your nap. During your usual nighttime sleep, you cycle through 5 stages of sleep over an 8-hour period. At each stage, your body performs functions that help restore and rejuvenate it.

Typically one full sleep cycle, from Stage 1 – 5, lasts 90 minutes. During a power nap, you want to reap the benefits of a specific cycle, in this case, Stage 1 and 2: power down and mental boosting sleep. These stages last around 15-20 mins, just enough time to wake with an air-punch.

Three tips for napping success:

Setting up for your power nap doesn’t need to involve 5-star linen. By following these easy steps, you can have your forty (or rather 15-20) winks whether you’re at home or in an office napping pod:

1. Nap after lunch

If you’re prone to experiencing that post-lunch energy crash, the ideal time for your nap is after your meal. Timing your nap before 3pm will allow you to replenish your energy and ensure that you don’t disrupt your nighttime sleep. This will give your body enough time to wind down and cycle back into its natural body clock routine.

Leaving five hours between your nap and natural bedtime will allow you to reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep as well as giving you the boost to power through the rest of your day.

2. Nap in comfort and peace

Finding that perfect napping place is key to a good power nap. A quiet space makes for a quick nap, so get out that “do not disturb” sign, and let your family or coworkers know that you’ll be offline for 20 minutes (working on your brainpower is also serious business).

When you’ve found your napping site, make sure it is where you’ll be most comfortable to fully relax. We suggest plugging out the noise of your environment by either using noise-reducing earphones or earplugs. Turn your phone onto silent (but don’t forget to set an alarm!) and power down your computer. A quiet space will allow you to quickly fall asleep and reboot your energy levels.

3. Nap with a shot of espresso

Did you know that a shot of espresso or a humble cup of coffee before your nap is the secret sauce to waking up refreshed? Physiologically, the effects of caffeine kick in around 20-45 minutes after you’ve drunk it (which is why it is not recommended before bedtime). By the time you wake up from your power nap, not only is your brain ready, but you’ll be full of renewed energy.

However, if you are sensitive to caffeine, you might want to sit this one out. Your nighttime sleep is more important for your overall health and the effects of caffeine could disturb your ability to fall asleep later on.

So, do power naps work?

Power naps can be the most efficient way to replenish your focus and productivity during the day. But it all depends on how your body reacts to sleep.

Our body clocks all function differently and in some cases, a power nap can confuse our body clocks by disturbing our normal sleeping routine. If you suffer from any sleep issues such as insomnia, then a daytime nap could be a bad idea.

To find out if power napping will work for you, pay attention to your sleeping routine at night. If you typically wake up feeling refreshed and remain energetic throughout the day, you probably don’t want to mess with your sleep rhythm. On the other hand, if you usually wake up feeling like you could do with a few extra snoozes, schedule in an afternoon power nap and see if that helps.

Healthy sleep is more about quality than quantity. If a power nap (or any type of nap) makes you feel more alive, alert and enthusiastic, then you know you’re doing it right.