Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

Most mammals—nearly 85%—are polyphasic, which means they sleep multiple times during the day. However, humans are monophasic, which means we sleep just once a day. But due to modern lifestyles and increasing levels of stress, sleep deprivation is a common sight.

A good night’s sleep plays an important role in your overall health and well-being as it keeps the immune system in good shape and heals the body.[1] But if your sleep gets disturbed due to work schedules or any other reason, it’s recommended that you make up the loss through power naps.

A power nap is an afternoon nap lasting anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes can help reduce stress and offset the adverse effects caused by sleep deprivation. Power nap is a term coined by James Mass, a social psychologist at Cornell University. It can recharge and revitalize you fairly quickly.

Different Types of Power Naps

Power naps can be broadly classified into four types:

  • Planned napping: As the name suggests, this refers to a nap that you have planned in advance—for instance, when you know you’re going to have a long night in the office, you take a quick power nap during the day to see you through the night. This is also called preemptive napping.
  • Emergency napping: When you are extremely sleepy and struggle to keep your eyes open, the nap you need is called emergency napping. This kind of napping is especially useful when you feel sleepy while driving.
  • Habitual napping: When you nap at a scheduled time of the day regularly, it is called habitual napping.
  • Appetitive napping: When you nap just for the fun of it.

Different People, Different Duration

From an ultra-short power nap lasting as little as six minutes to a more elaborate 90-minute nap, individuals have a range of power naps to choose from.

The six-minute power nap is known to improve declarative memory—a type of long-term memory—which is useful when trying to recall facts and knowledge. According to Sara C Mednick, a sleep expert and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, 15 to 20 minutes of power napping can provide you with incredible benefits including alertness and superior motor performance.

A 20-minute power nap is considered ideal to boost the brain and stave off mid-day sleepiness. However, longer naps—ranging between 30 and 60 minutes—are known to benefit memory and decision-making skills.

Advertising

Napping for 60-90 minutes –also called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep revitalizes the brain connections and enhances creativity.

Benefits of Power Napping

It is believed that a power nap not only helps you feel energetic but it also boosts memory and cognitive skills. No wonder, a number of organizations and universities around the globe are creating napping areas for their employees and students.

Improve Brain Performance

Power naps are especially useful in alleviating sleep deficit and improving verbal memory, perceptual learning, math, reasoning, and response time. Besides, power naps reduce stress, help keep the mood upbeat and fight fatigue. Power naps are also known to help the cause of weight management.

Aware of the benefits of power naps, companies are increasingly creating sleep spaces, where employees can unwind and catch a quick siesta. As for employees, they are becoming more aware of the benefits of napping and increasingly dumping the use of caffeine or energy drinks to keep them going at the workplace.

In fact, a study conducted in 2008 reveals that power naps fare far better than coffee in improving motor skills, perceptual learning, and verbal memory.[2]

The researchers made the participants nap for 60 to 90 minutes during the period of study. The study revealed that

“afternoon naps improved free recall memory compared to the caffeine group after both 20 minutes and seven hour intervals, while resulting in improved learning on physical tasks than caffeine.”

The study goes on to say that caffeine impairs motor sequence learning and declarative verbal memory, that are boosted by power naps.

Boost Energy

Good nappers wake up energized and alert and usually, prefer power naps over caffeine to restore their energy. Although caffeine or other energy drinks are known to increase energy levels, they do not help with the cognitive skills.

A study conducted in 1995 by NASA evaluated the benefits of napping on 747 participating pilots.[3] Each pilot in the nappers group napped for 40 minutes during the day, with an average sleep time of 28.5 minutes. Compared with the non-nappers, this group “demonstrated vigilance performance improvements from 16% in median reaction time to 34% in lapses.” Numerous subsequent studies have corroborated the findings of the NASA study that napping for just about the right duration increases alertness and productivity.

That said, not every individual needs a power nap to re-energize. It is important to understand why you need to nap. If you wish to take a nap only because you feel sleepy throughout the day, it may be an indication of stress, insomnia, or some other sleep disorder.

It completely depends on your genetic constitution whether you actually need a power nap or not. If you are not a good napper, you may actually wake up feeling worse because you may fall into a deep sleep during the nap.

Prevent Heart Diseases and Cancer

Yet another study conducted over a period of six years on nearly 24,000 healthy people (not suffering from coronary heart disease, stroke, or cancer) in 2007 in Greece revealed that all the participants who napped at least three times a week had a 37% lower chance of dying from a heart disease. This is because day-time power naps accelerate cardio-vascular recovery with a 45-minute nap helping lower the blood pressure—especially useful for people suffering from stress.

That’s not all, a letter published in the British Journal of Nutrition says power naps can help prevent obesity and weight maintenance.[4]

Advertising

Children Too Benefit from Napping

It is now well known that napping benefits people of all ages, but it is particularly beneficial for children. Generally, toddlers are biphasic—sleep twice a day. However, as they grow up, they become monophasic.

A study by Rebecca Spencer states that sleeping during the day is particularly effective in children as it helps boost their learning capabilities and enhances memory of the concepts learned earlier in the day.[5] She goes on to say that:

“distributed sleep is critical in early learning; when short-term memory stores are limited, memory consolidation must take place frequently.”

Therefore, children who do not take a nap during the day experience deficient performance that cannot be truly undone by night-time sleep alone. Nap-deprived children—aged between 1 and 3 years—often show poor problem solving skills and are more anxious.

Stigma

Although power naps are proved to bring numerous health benefits, until recently, it also had social stigmas associated with them.

Day-time nappers were often branded lazy with a lackadaisical attitude, and general sub-standard disposition. It was also believed that napping was the territory of children, elderly, and/or the sick. While numerous researches have been successful in busting these myths, there is still some level of education required about the benefits day-time power naps bring.

People who still feel power napping is a no-no, must know that Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, and even Leonardo da Vinci were all nappers—and successful.

Advertising

Steps to a Great Power Nap

The objective of a power nap is to re-energize and wake up as quickly as possible to maximize your productivity. Therefore, as with any good thing, to get the best out of your power nap, there are certain do’s and don’ts:

  1. Try to fall asleep as quickly as possible. Shut out any distractions that prevent you from falling asleep quickly.
  2. Keep your phone on silent mode to avoid disturbance from phone calls or messages.
  3. It’s a good idea to keep the nap short and quick in order to avoid waking up groggy. Consider setting an alarm for anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.
  4. Dim the lights of the room you choose to take your nap in. Light on the eyes makes it difficult to fall asleep quickly. Consider using an eye mask to cut off the light.
  5. Cut off the surrounding noise for a peaceful nap. Consider wearing noise-reduction headphone or plug in your earphones.
  6. Usually during a quick snooze, the body temperature falls. Keep a blanket or sheet handy to keep yourself warm.
  7. If you are napping in your office, consider using the Do Not Disturb sign to let colleagues know you are snoozing.
  8. Drink a cup of coffee before your power nap. The nap will leave you refreshed and the effect of caffeine will give you the energy to be more productive.
  9. Get up and get back to whatever you were doing quickly. Consider splashing some water on your face, a brisk walk to let your body know that the nap is over.
  10. Be consistent with you nap schedules. This means choosing the same time during the day for your power nap—ideal time for a power nap is usually between 1pm and 3pm.

Final Thoughts

As we may see, numerous studies have firmly established the numerous benefits power naps have to your health. But, it is also important to note that it may not always be possible for people to nap.

For instance, people accustomed to sleeping only on their bed face trouble napping in the office. And then there are people who wake up groggy and disoriented after a nap, which can adversely impact their productivity in the office.

A nap too long can leave you in a condition where you can’t sleep at night. So, it becomes critical to understand your need for a power nap and the ideal duration that re-energizes and revitalizes you. After all, the end objective is to rejuvenate yourself.

Happy napping!

More About Sleep and Productivity

Featured photo credit: Katya Austin via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Bijal Panchal

Brand Planning: Managing Sleep Diagnostic, Sleep Therapy & Reusable Mask Portfolio

What’s the Best Tea for Sleep? 7 Recipes to Try Tonight How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

Trending in Restore Energy

1 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life 2 7 Effective Ways to Cope with Stress 3 Why Am I So Tired Even After Rest? 4 Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Fatigue Symptom (& How to Boost Energy) 5 7 Signs You’re Burnt Out and How to Bounce Back

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on December 2, 2019

How to Develop Mental Toughness And Stay Strong

How to Develop Mental Toughness And Stay Strong

Are you the kind of person who wants to achieve massive success in your life? Do you have the mental toughness to make that happen?

I think we can all agree that no matter your ambitions, achieving success can be difficult; and over time, the daily grind can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional energy.

Achievers and high performers from all walks of life face ups and downs along the path to success—they face failure, burnout, discouragement, fatigue, self-limiting beliefs, stress, and so much more.

How do some people continually strive towards their personal goals year after year while others give up on them? How do those people stay strong and persevere when there is so much stacked against them?

Studies now show that mental strength is a critical key to success. If you haven’t read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, you should. In it, she shows that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit.’” In other words, mental toughness plays a significant role when it comes to achieving goals.

Sometimes, our goals wear us down and leave us feeling exhausted. Other times, our goals get difficult, and success seems impossible, so we lose hope, become discouraged, and want to quit.

At its core, mental toughness is simply the ability to stick to something when the going gets tough. People with high levels of mental toughness can push beyond these obstacles and forge a path towards success while those with lower levels of mental toughness may abandon their dreams.

Want to know the good news?

No matter who you are, what you’ve been told, or what you currently believe, you can develop the mental toughness you need to be successful.

All you need to do is learn to develop a positive mindset, focus on your why, and utilize the people around you for support.

1. Develop a Positive Mindset

If you’re going to increase your mental toughness, the first thing you have to do is focus on building a strong, positive mindset.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% of those thoughts repeat each day and, on average, 80% of repeated ideas are negative.[1]

That’s roughly 45,600 negative thoughts per day!

Carrying around these negative thoughts is like going on a hike in the mountains with a backpack full of rocks. The hike is hard enough on its own, but having extra junk weighing you down is a recipe for failure.

Sometimes, building mental toughness isn’t as much about building new strength as it is about saving your strength for the right tasks. Wouldn’t it be easier to dump the rocks out of the backpack instead of trying to get strong enough to carry the extra weight?

Absolutely!

But how can we learn to spot those 45,600 negative thoughts and get rid of them? How can we empty our metaphorical backpack?

Advertising

Well, it gets a whole lot easier if you know what you’re looking for. Some of the most prominent types of negative thoughts are self-limiting beliefs, all-or-nothing thinking, and dwelling.

Let Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs

It’s pretty hard to be mentally tough when you’re constantly beating yourself up. Self-limiting beliefs are any beliefs that hold you back in some way. Here are some examples:

“I’m not smart enough to…”

“I don’t have enough experience to…”

“I’ve tried that before, and it didn’t go well, so I must just be bad at…”

When we allow these self-limiting beliefs to flood our minds, negative self-talk runs rampant, and we crowd out our ability to think positively. We’re effectively working against ourselves.

If you want to keep your mind strong on your path to success, you have to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that are holding you back by realizing one key truth: self-limiting beliefs are thoughts, not facts.

When you recognize a self-limiting belief cropping up in your mind, quickly silence it by telling yourself that it’s not true and then back that up with some positive affirmations:

  • “I am smart enough; I may just need to do some more research first.”
  • “I may not have as much experience as someone else, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. I have enough experience to get started. I’ll figure the rest out on the way.”
  • “Just because I failed at this last time doesn’t mean I’m going to fail this time. My past does not dictate my future.”

Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Thinking

Another form of negative thinking that could be preventing you from building mental toughness is all-or-nothing thinking.

All-or-nothing thinking is the concept of thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. Your performance was totally good or totally awful. If you’re not perfect, then you’re a failure.

But this isn’t true!

If you’re trying to lose 30 pounds and only lost 28, isn’t that still better than not losing any weight at all? I’d say so!

If you allow all-or-nothing thinking to rule your mind, you’ll be on cloud nine when you succeed, but you’ll beat yourself up when you “fail.” Acknowledging the shades of gray in between will allow you to see success more often and it will help you celebrate your smaller wins.

When you recognize an all-or-nothing thought, remember to look for the positive in the situation. What did you gain by trying? What would you have missed out on had you not tried? Could you do better if you were to try again?

Ditch the Dwelling

Self-Limiting Beliefs and All-or-Nothing Thinking can lead to a bad case of dwelling on the negative. If you want to build some mental toughness and keep your mind strong, you have to ditch the dwelling.

Every day, bad things happen to each of us, and while there’s nothing we can do to prevent that, we can control how we react to these situations.

When we dwell on our misfortunes, we waste massive amounts of energy that we could be using to achieve our goals. When this happens, we’re more likely to quit altogether.

Advertising

But that doesn’t mean you’re not mentally tough; it just means you’re misusing your energy.

The next time something bad happens, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the disappointment and frustration, but work on reducing the amount of time you dwell on the situation.

Easier said than done, right? Try these:

  1. Call a friend or mentor and talk it through with them. Get some outside perspective on your situation.
  2. Time block your dwelling by allowing yourself to dwell for no more than one hour.
  3. Then, tell yourself to move on, that you’re human, and you’re allowed to make mistakes or experience setbacks.
  4. If all else fails, find a good way to distract yourself until you can calm down and reexamine things with a clear mind.

The faster you can focus on the positives and move past the problem, the quicker you can get back to achieving success in your life.

Be Patient about the Process

No matter which negative thoughts tend to run around your mind, working to replace them with positive thoughts can take time.

Learning to spot self-limiting beliefs, all-or-nothing thinking, or dwelling is one thing, but learning to quiet those thoughts is another thing entirely.

If at first you don’t succeed, don’t fret. Instead, take a deep breath and try again. As you work towards improving your mindfulness and your mental toughness, remember that you’re going to get better with time.

To make things a little easier, it helps to connect with your purpose.

2. Connect with Your Purpose

One of the most critical elements to building mental toughness and keeping a strong and focused mind is having a strong ‘why’ for everything you want to do.

If you set out to achieve a huge goal that you don’t have a ‘why’ for, you’re going to find yourself distracted, discouraged, or disengaged as soon as you experience your first setback.

Think about the last time you were working on a goal or resolution and things weren’t going well, maybe you even wanted to quit. Perhaps you thought you didn’t have enough willpower. Maybe you told yourself that you didn’t have enough discipline.

Here’s the truth: you just didn’t have a strong enough why.

Simon Sinek has been spreading his message “Start with Why” across the globe.[2] In short, he says that:

“Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.”

One of the biggest drains on your mental energy is pursuing a goal or a task that you don’t have a ‘why’ for. This is when we tend to look for external motivation or question our willpower, but those aren’t the issues.

Often, we set goals because we like the idea of the goal, not the reality of the goal. Without connecting to our why, we can’t intrinsically motivate ourselves to achieve our most challenging goals.

Find Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is our innate desire to do something and it comes when we work towards something that satisfies ourselves above all else—not our parents or our bosses or our teachers.

Advertising

Let’s say you think you want to quit smoking because you know it’s bad for you, but you really enjoy smoking. If you don’t truly want to quit smoking, it’s going to be nearly impossible, regardless of your willpower or mental toughness.

But if you want to quit smoking because you just had a baby, and you don’t want your baby growing up around smoke, then that ‘why’ is going to give you intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than sheer stubborn willpower, and it’s far easier to maintain over the long haul.

If you’re trying to develop mental toughness, connecting a why to everything you want to achieve will reduce the effort and energy it will take to achieve those things. Once you’ve found a strong why for all of your goals, you’ll find that you’ll have significantly more energy to pursue your more difficult challenges.

3. Find Strength in Unity

The final aspect of developing mental toughness is embracing the idea that you’re not in this alone. It’s a fact, anyone who’s ever achieved success in anything didn’t do so alone.

Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft alone. Oprah didn’t build her network by herself. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone without a team. Michelle Obama didn’t implement the “Let’s Move” campaign on her own.

Behind all of these successful people were countless other people who were there offering support, mentorship, guidance, and encouragement.

If you want to develop unmatched mental toughness, you need to understand that you don’t have to go it alone. Even the toughest Navy Seals have a team backing them up.

If you want to stay strong in your endeavors, you need to build a team of supporters who will step in and back you up when it counts.

Find a Mentor or Committee of Mentors

The benefits of having a great mentor are far too many to list, but to boil it down to the basics, a mentor is someone who will help show you the path to success.

A good mentor will help you discover your greatest strengths, spot and overcome your blind spots, and work through your weaknesses.

If you’re struggling to deal with your internal negativity or with finding your purpose, talk it through with a mentor. Sometimes we lose the forest for the trees, and a mentor can help us take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Here’s how to find the right mentor for yourself: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

Recruit Some Cheerleaders

If you want to stay strong, it never hurts to have a group of personal cheerleaders. Unlike mentors who are going to jump in and help you address your problems, a group of cheerleaders will help keep your spirits up.

Even if you have a strong ‘why’ and a positive mindset, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time. It doesn’t make you weak to need some help from time to time. Having a group of people cheering you on will make all the difference in the world.

As you work towards your goals, tell a few close friends about what you’re doing, and when things get tough, tell them about it. And when they give you the pep talk you need, don’t resist their positivity or counter it with your self-limiting beliefs or your all-or-nothing attitude.

Allow their optimism to refill your energy and use that energy to press on.

Form an Accountability Group

Cheerleaders are great, but sometimes we need someone to give us the kick we need to keep going. You might have a strong ‘why’ for running a marathon or losing 30 pounds, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; and trying to force yourself to follow through is a sure way to tax your mental energy.

Advertising

Why not save some of your mental energy by forming an accountability group?

Find a person or a few people who have similar goals, or at the very least, the need for an accountability partner. Then, form an agreement within the group to push each other every day.

Even if your goals aren’t the same, accountability partners are great for giving us the push we need when we need it most.

Regardless of which relationships you choose, sometimes we have to be able to work through things on our own. Mentors, cheerleaders, and accountability partners are a great way for us to combat our naturally negative mindsets, but occasionally we have to be able to pick ourselves back up.

4. Learn to Pick Yourself Back Up After Setbacks

Building a strong mindset and developing mental toughness isn’t easy! Anyone who’s ever achieved massive success knows that obstacles, setbacks, and failure are inevitable, and you’re no different.

As you work on your goals, you’re going to face many ups and downs, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have mental toughness, willpower, or discipline.

We all struggle. We all fail. It’s what we decide to do after we fail that truly counts.

When you find yourself in a low spot, ask yourself these questions:

  • “Am I being too hard on myself?”
  • “Are negative thoughts such as Self-Limiting Beliefs or All-or-Nothing Thinking distorting my view?”
  • “What’s the positive side of this setback/obstacle/failure?”
  • “Why was this goal important to me? What was my purpose?”
  • “Is this goal still important to me? Do I still have a ‘why’?”
  • “Who can I ask for help? Who can mentor me or cheer me on? Who can help hold me accountable?”

Asking yourself these questions is a great way to check in on your mindset. When we get lost in negative thinking or lose connection to our purpose, it’s far too easy to become discouraged. When we feel discouraged, we start feeling weak, maybe even a little hopeless.

Also, this article provides some useful tips to help you get back on track: How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

Tying it All Together

Are you still with me? I know I’ve thrown a lot at you, from developing a positive mindset and combatting your internal voice to connecting with purpose and building a committee of mentors. It’s a lot to take it!

But here’s the bottom line:

A crucial part of developing mental toughness is learning to recognize these tendencies and taking action to correct them early on. Developing mental toughness is not about eliminating weakness, but learning how to deal with it and overcome it.

No one is perfect, but when we focus on the right things, we can develop a mental toughness worthy of life’s biggest challenges.

More About Mental Strength

Featured photo credit: Zulmaury Saavedra via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next