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5 Reasons Why Naps Should Be A Mandatory Part Of Our Day

5 Reasons Why Naps Should Be A Mandatory Part Of Our Day

Though some may claim that naps are a sign that you’re lazy, there is increasing evidence which shows that a quick power nap can actually benefit your health. Whether you’re low on energy during the day, or just feel better when you have some time to yourself, it may be beneficial to let yourself nod off every so often. While you come up with ways to convince your boss to institute nap time, here are five incredible health benefits to fitting in an afternoon snooze.

1. Short Term Energy Boost

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    While those against napping might claim naps make you more drowsy, taking a shorter nap will actually boost your energy and alertness. Next time you feel the need to grab a quick rest, doze off with confidence. Napping too long will have the opposite effect however, and make you feel groggy for hours. To avoid this, aim to sleep for about 20 to 30 minutes in order to get the jump on the rest of your day.

    2. Say Goodbye To Your Daily Hump

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      The normal ups and downs in your energy are largely controlled by chemical systems in the body. Physiological makeup and sleep habits combine to make each of our sleep cycles a little different. However, there is usually a dip in energy in the late afternoon, in addition to an increase in sleepiness towards the evening. In one study looking at naps, caffeine, and exercise, naps were the most effective way to overcome this afternoon dip in energy. 

      3. It’s Natural

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        Humans are among very few mammals to sleep in monophasic sleep cycles. Splitting our day into one period of wakefulness, then one period of sleep is different from 85% of other mammals. These animals sleep on and off throughout the day in short periods, known as polyphasic sleep cycling. It is not clear if a monophasic sleep cycle is human’s natural sleep cycle, so some researchers believe napping may be perfectly natural.

        4. Helps You Work

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          Another way naps may keep you healthy is by warding off dips in performance. Many people experience a continuing decline in ability to focus and perform throughout the day, making them less productive in the afternoon and evenings. To combat this, NASA recently did a study on their pilots. The group who were allowed to nap were 34% more alert in their post nap flights, while the group that didn’t nap struggled more. If NASA’s on board, your campaign for extended lunch breaks might not be that frivolous. More and more, research supports short naps helping you have a more effective day.

          5. Helps Your Heart

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            Cortisol is a chemical our body releases when we’re in stressful situations, but when you sleep, your body release chemicals that balance out Cortisol. Naps aren’t excluded, as a recent study found that a 30 minute nap three times a week made a person 37% less at risk of dying from heart disease. Real world, lasting health benefits are as good a reason as any to take a reprieve from your to do list every once in a while. 

            Featured photo credit: Takashi Hososhima via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on September 20, 2018

            8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

            8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

            You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

            Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

            When you train your brain, you will:

            • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
            • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
            • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

            So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

            1. Work your memory

            Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

            When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

            If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

            The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

            Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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            Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

            What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

            For example, say you just met someone new:

            “Hi, my name is George”

            Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

            Got it? Good.

            2. Do something different repeatedly

            By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

            Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

            It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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            And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

            But how does this apply to your life right now?

            Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

            Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

            Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

            So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

            You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

            That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

            3. Learn something new

            It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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            For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

            Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

            You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

            4. Follow a brain training program

            The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

            5. Work your body

            You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

            Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

            Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

            Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

            6. Spend time with your loved ones

            If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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            If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

            I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

            7. Avoid crossword puzzles

            Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

            Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

            Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

            8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

            Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

            When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

            So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

            The bottom line

            Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

            Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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