Categories: Sleep Science

The Power of the Cat Nap

It’s late Tuesday afternoon, you’ve already put in a full day of working, exercising and pushing yourself past your limit. While it’s way too early for bed, your botanical latex mattress looks all too inviting to pass up, so you snooze for a few winks. Believe it or not, a nap can be just what the doctor ordered. You’ve probably noticed how after a short nap, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and energized. Today, we’re going to find out how and why napping can be the best little thing you do for yourself today.

WebMD doctors believe that a 20-minute power nap can be a resourceful way to combat sleep deprivation. For those working mothers and people who just can’t sleep through the night, the nap is quite a secret weapon. According to the doctors, the length of your nap — and the type of sleep you get — helps determine the brain-boosting benefits. The 20-minute power nap — sometimes called the stage 2 nap — is good for alertness and motor learning skills like typing and playing the piano. If you end up sleeping longer than 20 minutes, research has shown that your memory and creativity can actually improve. This is called “slow-wave sleep” and it’s great for decision making skills, such as memorizing vocabulary or recalling directions. Getting rapid eye movement or REM sleep, usually 60 to 90 minutes of napping, plays a key role in making new connections in the brain and solving creative problems.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, there are different types of napping:

  • Planned napping (also called preparatory napping) involves taking a nap before you actually get sleepy. You may use this technique when you know that you will be up later than your normal bed time or as a mechanism to ward off getting tired earlier.
  • Emergency napping occurs when you are suddenly very tired and cannot continue with the activity you were originally engaged in. This type of nap can be used to combat drowsy driving or fatigue while using heavy and dangerous machinery.
  • Habitual napping is practiced when a person takes a nap at the same time each day. Young children may fall asleep at about the same time each afternoon or an adult might take a short nap after lunch each day.

WebMD also found that taking a 20-minute cat-nap is better than going for that second cup of coffee. While both methods will help you focus and stay alert, coffee can decrease your memory function while naps will help to improve it. The doctors have even come up with some helpful hints to make your naps worthwhile:

Napping Tips

  • Be regular. Keep a regular nap schedule. Prime napping time falls in the middle of the day, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Make it quick. Set your cell phone alarm for 30 minutes or less if you don’t want to wake up groggy.
  • Go dark. Nap in a dark room or wear an eye mask. Blocking out light helps you fall asleep faster.
  • Stay warm. Stash a blanket nearby to put over you because your body temperature drops while you snooze.

Use these tips the next time you feel the need for an energy boost. Before grabbing coffee or an energy drink, try your bed instead!

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    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton writes exensively regarding green living and sleep. She has been an author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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