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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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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

    How about a unique spin on things?

    These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

    1. Empty your mind.

    It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

    Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

    Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

    Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

    How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

    2. Keep certain days clear.

    Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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    This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

    3. Prioritize your work.

    Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

    Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

    Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Chop up your time.

    Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

    5. Have a thinking position.

    Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

    What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

    6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

    To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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    Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

    7. Don’t try to do too much.

    OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

    8. Have a daily action plan.

    Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

    Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

    9. Do your most dreaded project first.

    Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

    10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

    The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

    11. Have a place devoted to work.

    If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

    But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

    Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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    Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

    12. Find your golden hour.

    You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

    Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

    Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

    Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

    13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

    It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

    By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

    Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

    14. Never stop.

    Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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    Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

    There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

    15. Be in tune with your body.

    Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

    16. Try different methods.

    Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

    It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

    Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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