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9 Aug 2011

Power Nap Benefits for Everyday Use

Power naps are a form of short sleep usually lasting no more than 30 minutes. It has been proven to restore your mental agility and performance. Many interesting studies have been done on power naps and here are some of their findings. If you are yet to try power naps, this is a good time to start.

Our brains are bombarded by millions of signals every minute. These accumilate in your temporary memory and later actively shifted to permanent storage while your asleep. While you may have thought of sleep as a passive process, it is an active component of your daily routine. Some people consider taking a nap to be a lazy thing to do, when you are working. But for the brain, it gives a chance to store up some memory and start fresh.

Sleep Research on Astronauts

Some of the most interesting studies have been done by the NASA. Astronauts perform complex task in an environment that is out of tune of their sleeping habits. Most astronauts sleep less in space than they do on earth. So it is natural for NASA to take a keen interest on sleep patterns and performance.

By putting volunteers on different sleep schedules, NASA researches have found that naps increase working memory performance. It is the ability to remember things while doing something else. This is a requirement to carry out complex task required by astronauts.

However, power naps fail to boost vigilance and basic alertness amoung the volunteers. This gives the ability to sustain attention for prolong periods and to notice important details. These skills depended on the total amount of sleep gained during the last 24 hours.

Benefits of Power Naps

Stress relief:Sleep can put your mind at rest. It is an effective form of stress relief. Power naps are considered to be the antidote for visual burnouts. It rests our eyes and body.

Enhance skilled learning: Power naps owes it’s benefits to NREM stage 2 sleep. It is a form of light sleep with the appearance of sleep spindles. These synchronized burst of waves are believed to train the muscles on skilled tasks learned while you were awake.

Improved efficiency and creativity: Power naps can refresh your mind. So when you return to your task at hand, you can have a fresh perspective. 

Improved working memory: As in the NASA study, power naps can boost your ability to perform complex tasks.

Avoiding sleepiness: If you are planning to stay up late, a power nap taken in the evening will help you fight that drowsy feeling.

Power naps are indeed a ‘quick-fix’. It cannot fight off sleep deprivation or sleep disorders. It has not shown benefits in improving mental alertness and vigilance. Power naps have limited benefits when taken during a night shift. Knowing the limitations will help you take the best out of your power naps.