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What Is Power Nap And How To Do It For The Biggest Brain Benefits

What Is Power Nap And How To Do It For The Biggest Brain Benefits

People often de-value sleeping or napping. But believe it or not, nearly one-third of the human race are sleep-deprived.

At this point, maybe the importance of a power nap hasn’t strung a chord with you yet. Let me throw you some mind-blowing stats.

A power nap boosts alertness greatly.

From a groundbreaking NASA study in 1995,[1] researchers experimented the beneficial effects of napping on 747 pilots.

Each participant was allowed a 40-minute nap during the day, and “sleeping on average for 25.8 minutes (which is just about right)”. The nappers “demonstrated vigilance performance improvements from 16% in median reaction time to 34% in lapses compared to the No-Rest Group.”[2]

What else does a power nap bring?

Apart from improving vigilance, there are more benefits to power naps.

It boosts memory. Research[3] has shown taking an afternoon nap can improve short-term in younger adults.

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It reduces mistakes. The NASA study has proven the pilots who took naps had better job performances. This goes for people working in the medical field and emergency situations.

It improves learning. A short nap provides wakefulness to the body and boost the ability to learn.

    Famous people nap too!

    The secret to success is often taking power naps. U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, and political figures like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher all napped back in the day.[4]

    How do you know you need to nap?

    Here are 6 major signs your body tells you to nap:

    You are constantly cranky. The sleepier you are, the more irritable you are. You are less capable to handle stress.

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    You are always hungry. A study[5] has shown sleep deprivation results in decreased level of leptin, which is a hormone that inhibits hunger and regulates energy.

    You zone out easily. Without proper rest, it’s easy to let the Zs overrule what you are working on.

    Your eyes are puffy, your skin is blemished. A poor sleep upsets hormones, and leads to unusual breakouts.

    You have a bad immune system. The sleepier the body, the weaker it is.

    You are even immune to coffee. If coffee doesn’t help, you need to seriously regain your sleep.

    So, nap or coffee?

    9 out of 10 times, you will choose coffee.

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    It is easily accessible, doesn’t take up much space, and immediately wakes you up. On the flip side, caffeine leads to a crash but napping doesn’t. Overall, napping has more advantages than coffee does, so how to nap effectively?

    Plan power naps into your daily routine.

    When you are experiencing fatigue or you know you are about to experience sleep loss, you should take a power nap to regain your energy. Mid-afternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m., is the best time to nap, because post-lunch sleepiness is about to hit you. Also, this time is least likely to affect your normal nighttime sleep schedule.

    Rest comfortably to optimize the power nap experience.

    It’s very important to find a relaxing place to nap. The best place is definitely your bedroom, but when you are not at home, a chair or a couch are also good. Make sure the place is not too cold or too warm, preferrably around 65°F or 18°C. Use earbuds and eye masks to block any sound or light that will potentially affect your sleep. Also, shut your phone and other distractions off to have the perfect nap.

    But don’t over-nap!

    Your power nap shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes.

    Have you ever woken up feeling groggy? If yes, then you have probably over-napped. After the first 30 minutes of your sleep, your body will enter the “deep sleep” mode and develop sleep inertia when you wake up.

    And take power naps carefully, it may backfire on you.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are some people who shouldn’t take power naps.

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    People who suffer with insomnia. People with temporary sleep issues should not take naps, because napping perpetuates a more fragmented sleep pattern and reduces nighttime sleeping drive.

    People with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing while sleeping, which causes the person to be constantly tired. Unfortunately, naps can’t fix that.

    Napping anywhere and everywhere is possible.

    At campuses, several schools have invested napping pods for students to nap. But if these pods aren’t available, take 20 to 30 minutes off or the gap between classes to regain energy and retain what you’ve learned.

    At workplaces, find a good quiet spot, like a meeting room or the lounging area to rest before heading back to your desk or cubicle.

    Everyone needs to sleep well.

    For more information, watch this TED talk of Arianna Huffington encouraging people (especially type-A women) to sleep well in order to achieve success.

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

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    Frank Yung

    Writer. Storyteller. Foodie.

    Your Future Self Will Thank You For Starting To Do This For Only 10 Minutes Every Day 10 Best Standing Desks That Are High in Quality and Cheap in Price Finally, a Way to Avoid Jet Lag: The Jet Lag Calculator The Best Places Around the World to Retire in 2017 Take 5 Minutes To Read And Improve Your Writing Skills Forever

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    Published on April 16, 2019

    How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

    How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

    When was the last time you did something for yourself?

    Whether it was deciding to treat yourself with a little something or travel for some R&R, how often do you practice self-care?

    Well, as good as above sounds, there’s a common misconception that many of us have about self-care: that it’s only about indulgence and enjoyment.

    However, self-care goes far beyond indulgence. It’s actually about respecting your mind and body, understanding its limits, and being able to take care of every part of yourself, in a holistic way.

    And, you really don’t have to go to extreme measures or do anything specific–like meditating or following a plant based diet–in order to practice self-care. You just have to make sure that what you’re doing is in your best interests.

    So how can you make that happen?

    Below are a few proven methods that will help you become a better version of you. Follow through with these regularly and you’ll be well on your way to living your very best life.

    Listen to Yourself

    The bulk of self-care is knowing yourself.

    This means knowing your body’s limitations, and being in tune with your feelings, emotions and thoughts. So it’s important, then, to know who you are and what you want to do in life, in order to truly say that you know yourself. 

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    What is your purpose?

    Have you ever thought about this question?

    Your purpose doesn’t have to remain the same throughout your life. What you found a purpose in at age 19 would likely be different at age 49.

    In your current situation, think about the different roles that you have – as a working professional, a spouse, a partner, a parent, etc.

    Do you feel like you are fulfilling your purpose through any of these roles?

    All you have to do is ensure that what you’re chasing is meaningful to you; this will bring focus and motivation as you strive to achieve your goals.

    If you have your purpose defined, then that’s awesome! You know what drives you and why.

    But, if you don’t feel like you have a purpose nailed down, it’s good to start by asking why.

    For example, why are you working in your particular job or industry? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same. In which case, you may find yourself not having a direction for where you’re headed in life.

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    If you’d like to learn more about finding your purpose, then I recommend you check out this article:

    How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

    Seek Out Continuous Education

    Now, this may seem less common when you think of self-care, but lifelong learning is incredibly useful and an important component of taking care of yourself.

    It’s Super Practical

    Lifelong learning is extremely practical these days and does not require as much effort as it may have in the past. Long gone are the days when you could only find information on something by visiting a library. In this day of the internet, anything you can imagine is at your fingertips.

    You don’t need to physically go to a learning institution to learn. You can watch Youtube videos to learn new skills, take online courses to earn a degree, and scroll through an endless amount of articles, books and journals from reputable news and informative sites.

    When you’re constantly pushing yourself to learn and take up new things, your mental health also improves. Research shows that an active and engaged mind is responsible for diminishing age-related memory loss and improves overall cognitive abilities.

    Your Confidence Will Skyrocket

    You’ll also have improved self worth as it teaches you to step outside of your comfort zone, which will undoubtedly improve your confidence.

    You’ll also connect better with others by expanding your knowledge base. Learning exposes you to a multitude of new ideas and perspectives that you may have otherwise never considered. This also increases your adaptability. Whether it’s at work or just wanting to adapt to society, your peers, and loved ones, life long learning prepares you to take on new challenges.

    You’ll Be More Desired in the Job Market

    Another obvious reason for continuous education, is that your employability will also increase.

    With the ever changing economy, and huge influences from technology, social media, science etc., job descriptions today are moving targets. Assignments and roles change so quickly in response to changing business demands, it becomes a Herculean task to keep a job description database current.

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    In years past, stability was a characteristic of the world of work. Procedures, information, jobs, and organizations were established and provided continuity. Education was completed in the first 14 to 22 years of one’s life, followed by a long career occasionally punctuated by short-term job training.

    Today, however, jobs, companies, and technology are disappearing and being created simultaneously. To remain current and maintain a competitive advantage in the human capital marketplace, an individual is challenged to continually learn.

    People return to school at every age to enrich their skills and knowledge for their current positions. Some even prepare themselves for new jobs or career changes, moving them forward into new opportunities and technology.

    We can be assured that we will be challenged to continue to learn new tasks and information throughout our lives. Successful careers belong to flexible, curious learners who are prepared for opportunities because they know themselves and where they make their best contribution. As Peter Drucker, the father of modern management stated,

    “Knowledge is choice.”

    Lifelong learning also increases social awareness and perspective. To genuinely understand and empathize with others, increase social awareness, and foster strong interpersonal relationships, it’s important to seek out new perspectives. Enhancing the skills that positively impact emotional intelligence can bring even greater happiness and success, both personally and at work; and, this is all part of self-care.

    Improve Your Habits (Both at Work and at Home)

    Now, the last piece of advice I want to introduce to your self-care regimen, is to improve your habits.

    Habits define who you are, and are built up over time. You are what you eat is a great example of this. If you make it a habit to eat foods that nourish your body, rather than make your body feel bad, then you will be much healthier overall.

    Good Habits Allow You to Reach Your Goals

    Since habits dictate your days and nights, such as waking up every morning to get to work before a certain time, or brushing your teeth before bedtime every night, they play a major role in whether we do or do not reach our goals.

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    When you form habits that allow you to progress towards your goals, you’re automatically living a purposeful day, everyday.

    Habits Make Your Time a Priority

    How do you spend your free time? Do you opt to lounge on the couch watching Netflix passively, or do you engage in activities that support your purpose in life?

    It’s natural to waste a lot of time during the day, but fostering good habits will make you set a pattern for how you spend your time and give you the choice of what you choose to spend your time on. By improving your habits, you’ll find that you can be a LOT more productive. When you create good habits, you become more efficient with your time and a lot less is wasted.

    This in essence creates an overall positive influence on your life, allowing you to treat your mind and body well, which is why improving your habits are so important to self-care.

    Your Well Being Comes First

    We live in such a fast-paced society, where we are often so caught up in our work, families, maintaining our social lives, our studies and everything in between. It’s an understatement to say that life can get a little overwhelming at times.

    If you’ve ever watched the safety video onboard a plane, you’ll know that they always ask for a parent or adult to put on the safety mask first, before tending to the child. This may sound selfish, but the fact is that if you truly want to ensure the child’s safety, then your safety needs to come first so that you can protect and care for the child without complications from your end.

    The same goes for self-care. We need to ensure that our well being is priority, so that we can be the best for the people around us.

    Listening to yourself, practicing lifelong learning and improving your habits are steps that you can take to ensure you’re constantly in the best state of mind, alongside the indulgence and rest that you reward yourself with.

    Featured photo credit: Photo by Raychan on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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