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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.”

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

    Video Summary

    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

    One Exercise, multiple benefits

    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

            5. You’ll improve overall balance

              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                  How to hold a plank position

                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                    • Prolapse
                    • After prolapse surgery
                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                    • Previous childbirth
                    • Overweight

                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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