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6 Amazing Benefits You’ll Experience When You Start Taking Regular ‘Power Naps’

6 Amazing Benefits You’ll Experience When You Start Taking Regular ‘Power Naps’

When you think about taking a daytime nap, what comes to your mind?

For many of us, we picture someone who’s consumed one too many drinks or ate a giant sandwich and is passed out on the couch. Naps are for the unambitious and lazy. Or, for retired people with a lot of time on their hands. The man or woman who falls asleep at their desk at work is scorned and laughed at. We feel guilty when we doze off during the day.

But, the stigma associated with taking a nap in western culture is terribly misplaced. Taking a timeout to snooze during the day does more than just give us a quick energy boost. It also confers some amazing cognitive and health benefits. Naps increase your health and well-being, as well as your productivity and intelligence, especially when you’re not getting enough shuteye at night. Great men have known this for a long time.

Famous people who took daytime naps

Famous leaders and thinkers from Napoleon, to Churchill and JFK were all ardent nappers. Great artists and inventors like Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison were also nappers. History is replete with famous nappers. Even contemporary pop celebrities like the power couple of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are proud nappers. In fact, your cat also seems to know something about the benefits of ‘power naps’ as it alternates sleep and wake cycles throughout a 24 hour period.

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    While the pace of our modern lifestyles may keep us from enjoying short sleep, the urge for a daytime siesta is still hardwired into our biology. We all feel sleepy sometimes during the day. It’s just that we suppress that feeling. Here are amazing benefits you’ll experience when you break away from the stigma and start taking power naps regularly as part of your routine.

    1. You’ll boost your alertness and motor learning skills.

    The length of your nap plays a big part in determining the brain-boosting benefits you get. If you break up your day with a 20-minute power nap (sometimes called the stage 2 nap), you’ll be as alert and energetic for the second part of your day as you were for the first. Moreover, your motor learning skills will get a significant boost, including motor learning skills like playing the piano or typing.

    This short, 20-minute nap provides the benefits of improved alertness and performance without interfering with your nighttime sleep or leaving you feeling groggy.

    So what happens if you nap for more than 20 minutes?

    2. You’ll improve your working memory and decision-making skills.

    Have you ever woken up suddenly knowing the solution to something that’s been bugging you? Well, you can thank slow-wave sleep or napping for approximately 30 to 60 minutes for that. This slightly longer nap (30 to 60 minutes) improves your working memory and sharpens your decision-making skills like recalling directions and memorizing vocabulary.

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    Working memory is the part of the brain responsible for working on complex tasks that require you to pay close attention to one thing, while also holding a bunch of other things in your memory. During sleep, recent memories are transferred to the neocortex in the brain where long-term memories are solidified and stored. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap specifically improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.

    So, if you’ve got an interview or exam planned for the day, you might want to take a nap right before.

    3. You’ll enhance your sensory perception and creativity.

    Napping for 60 to 90 minutes helps the brain make new connections, which enhances your creativity and problem solving ability. According to sleep scientist Sara C. Mednick, napping improves your creativity by both loosening up the web of ideas in your head and fusing disparate insights together.

    Moreover, this type of napping can improve your sensory perception as effectively as a night of sleep. This means that the sunset looks more beautiful, the flowers smell much lovelier and the steak tastes so much better after a good nap.

    4. You’ll improve your mood and outlook.

    A quick power nap is a well-documented mood booster. According to Mednick, “napping bathes your brain in serotonin.” Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates our mood, sleep and appetites. It produces feelings of well-being and contentment.

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    When we are sleep deprived and stressed, higher levels of serotonin are used and production of more is hindered. As a result we become irritable, anxious, depressed and easily distracted.

    However, when you take a quick nap, you reverse those negative moods and create a more positive outlook. In other words, you combat and overcome sleepiness and associated crankiness.

    5. You’ll boost your immune system and prime your sexual function.

    When you are napping, your body releases the growth hormone that boosts you immune system, helps muscle repair, aids in weight loss and primes your sexual function.

    Basically, a quick nap not only lifts your mood and feeling of well-being, but also actually enhances your good health. Napping regularly may even decrease your risk of heart disease. How cool is that?

    6. You’ll have an easy way to relieve tiredness and get rest and rejuvenation.

    Our busy modern lifestyles leave us feeling pretty tired and overwhelmed at the end of the day. Napping can be a pleasant luxury that helps us relieve tiredness and get much needed rest and rejuvenation during the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends we start considering naps as “mini-vacations,” rather than merely “slacking.”

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    For example, most people are aware that driving while tired and sleepy is extremely dangerous. Although getting a full night’s sleep before a long drive is ideal, taking a short power nap before driving can also minimize the risk of having a drowsy driving crash.

    In fact, sleep experts recommend that if you feel tired and drowsy when driving, you should immediately pull over to a rest area, drink a caffeinated beverage and take a20-minute nap. It can provide an easy, natural way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.

    Evidently, naps are incredibly powerful “tools” for self-improvement. As comedian Carrie Snow once said, “No day is so bad that it can’t be fixed with a nap.”

    More by this author

    David K. William

    David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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