In the Western hemisphere, we often hear that naps are only for kids, otherwise you’re just lazy or procrastinating. Go tell that to the Chinese, for whom the nap is a real institution in the proper sense: the right to nap has been written in the constitution for 70 years. Strange for a country that counts among the first leading economic powers, right?
So, you’ll be able to tell those who’re singing that same occidental refrain that they’ve missed the mark, and that a little reading on the subject will do them good (yes, a small vengeance!). And what’s best about all this: you’ll be right!
What?! A nap isn’t for lazy people, and helps to improve your performances?
The short answer: yes! The detailed answer: it has been proved that napping boosts athletic performances, whether you’re a champion of the marathon or of bedroom sport. More seriously, it has been proven that short naps improve the various components of your motor memory, particularly important when an athlete wants to learn new techniques to enhance their performance.
You’re not a Michael Jordan or Usain Bolt? No need to panic. Naps are also beneficial to you. In fact, once completed, a nap has a direct effect on your alertness: you’ll be more attentive, have more energy and be in a better mood. It’s also a formidable shield against stress, and a strong weapon to improve your memory’s performances. In addition, it’s, ironically, an excellent way to wake up, according to a study that compared naps to coffee on their capacity to keep the primates that we are awake. A nap gives our body a hit of stamina and can have a much longer effect than any caffeinated drink!
But beyond these day-to-day advantages, the largest benefit of a nap is to your health. It’s an incredible tool for cardiovascular regulation, with in particular a positive impact on high blood pressure. A nap is powerful!
Power nap, recovery nap or full cycle nap?
What’s cool about a nap, is that you have a choice, just like at a Chinese buffet: a power nap, a recovery nap or a nap that lasts for a complete cycle. The best in all this? It’s free, as opposed to a meal in a restaurant.
The power nap is one that generally lasts from 20 to 30 minutes. It’s relatively short. It’s an excellent way to recuperate your concentration, to improve your performance, and to be more relaxed. It’s also a type of nap that helps to avoid sleep inertia (upon waking up, a sensation that your brain is slow to start). Another advantage: you can have one almost anywhere, without looking odd.
Then there is the 40 to 60-minute nap, also called a recovery nap. This one helps you recuperates, as its name indicates, since you will wake up during your paradoxical sleep cycle, or during your light sleep. That’s why you’ll have the impression of being full of energy as soon as you wake up. It’s the recommended format for napping when your nights are short. Less efficient than the power nap, its effects are however superior, and besides, it’s the type of nap that NASA prescribes to its astronauts during their training period.
Next comes the five-course nap, the longest, the ultimate: the nap that lasts for a complete cycle! Its duration varies between one hour and a half to two hours. Its advantage is that it corresponds to a full sleep cycle. This type of nap also promotes optimal rest of your muscles and your brain. But it isn’t very convenient, because it’s hard in the western hemisphere to free one hour and a half to two hours during a standard workday for this nap. And if you start your nap too late, that’ll impact the quality of your sleep and you’ll have to shorten your night. To consider after reflection only!
When to take my nap? And where?
For a power nap, it’s like at the gym. The more you train your napping, the easier it’ll get. But the best place for a power napper is without question a comfortable spot, but not too comfortable. You really don’t want to have a hard time waking up! Also choose a location where there are no or few distractions. You could very well sleep in your office with a little practice. It’s also recommended to power nap before 3 p.m.
For a recovery nap, it all depends on your schedule. You can always try it at the office, but the lack of comfort might disturb your rest as you fall into the arms of Morpheus during the day. So, your resting position is even more important! You should also avoid the pressure points. At the office for example, you could try crossing your arms on your desk and lying your head on top. Even better, if possible, you can lie down on the carpet in a quiet spot or in your car.
For a full cycle nap, favour quiet places in the long term, where you won’t be disturbed and where you won’t have anything to do. It’s the kind of nap that you should preferably have at home during the weekends (in a Polysleep foam mattress, of course!)
Ultimately, napping is good for your productivity, and your health!
To finish, no matter its length, a nap is excellent for the hectic pace of your life.
Here below, if you’re a bit lazy, is a summary of our article in a few points. Napping helps with:
- Better muscular and cerebral memory.
- Reduced stress!
- More alertness.
- Cardiovascular regulation, with a positive impact on high blood pressure.
- There are different types of naps:
- The famous power nap (20–30 minutes): restores concentration, improves performance and helps to be more relaxed without being subjected to sleep inertia. Practical at the office and doesn’t take too much time.
- The recovery nap (40 to 60 minutes), or the NASA nap: perfect for those who have short nights. Its effects are superior to those of the power nap, and like the blue drink, it gives you wings with the boost of energy it provides. On the other hand, it’s harder to have at the office.
- The complete cycle nap (1h30–2h): allows to sleep for a full sleep cycle with optimal recuperation for your brain and your muscles. But it shouldn’t be started too late, otherwise you might affect your night’s sleep. It’s more for weekends at home or during vacation!
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