The joys (and health benefits) of power naps

The joys (and health benefits) of power naps

I love a power nap. Who doesn’t?

Hi All. I hope that you have all had a good week. How did you find my blog post from last week? Did you take on board any of the advice about running and thermoregulation? Did you find it a useful blog to help better manage your health when going out on runs?

As some of you know who follow my weekly blogs, each week I look at things which are either experienced by lived experience of the moment and or inspired by the fitness and wellness journey that I am currently on. Where last week I looked large scale at running and thermoregulation, this week I’m going to go a bit lighter but still talk about something as important: rest.

More specifically: power naps.

This week I’m going to look at power naps: the joys they bring, as well as the surprising health benefits that they bring.

We all less busy lives. Sometimes we are on the go between one job to the next, picking up the kids from school, doing a long day only to have a small sleep and to be back on shift – sometimes getting a decent night’s sleep is difficult. I will admit, with my current job and with my current working hours (I work for the health service), I may find myself finishing a long day and doing an early morning shift the next day or doing a night shift and doing a shift a second day after that. It’s a lot for the body to take on board, and I empathise with people who work all manner of hours in retail and in the health service, public sector and armed services and who don’t manage to establish a good sleeping pattern.

Whilst it is important to have a good night sleep and a good night sleep certainly has its health benefits, given the opportunity to have a quick pause, is there a benefit to be had from that?

Well yes.

A few days back I was exhausted from coming off a night shift, kind of resting the day after and going back to work the day after. My partner Lana was talking to me about her day and I was struggling to engage in conversation as my brain was actually too tired to exchange ideas. I politely asked if I could lay down for a little bit. I closed my eyes and about an hour later I was awake, fresh, focussed and my brain felt recharged.

Which made me think about power naps. I love to sleep. A good sleep – it’s the best. A good sleep in a good bed with fresh sheets = bliss. I’m getting all dreamy thinking about sleep.

A good sleep sets you off on a good mood, with renewed focus after your mind and body have had time to recharge. So how can a power nap do the same?

According to Sleep Advisor (2019), a power nap is: “much better than no nap as it enhances the cognitive abilities and alertness. It has also been found that to have important health benefits. A power nap improves learning and memory, prevents stress, boosts mood and creativity, helps jump start productivity and alertness, and even helps lower your risk for heart disease.”

There are four stages of sleep:

Stage 1: Light rest (state between being awake and being asleep)

Stage 2: Sleep kicking in.

Stage 3 and 4: Deep sleep.

How long you are resting is also a measure toward where you are on the Stages. Twenty to forty minutes and you are at Stages 1 and 2. At an hour and ninety minutes + you are at Stage 3 +, and this is when you going into a deep sleep and fall into your circadian rhythm. Jarring yourself from a circadian rhythm makes your body feel like it is in a different time zone, having the  body to experience a form a jet lag. If you are working unsociable hours and adjusting from working night shifts to day shifts and wonder why you are so exhausted – well its your circadian rhythms gone all wibbly wobbly out of sync (that is a Doctor Who reference for those who may know).

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The magic number therefore looks to be around the 30 minute mark if you are aiming for a power nap to recharge the brain and body.

It must be noted though that having a good night sleep is strongly encouraged, to help your body recover and help your body and mind to relax and regroup. If you find it difficult to sleep, perhaps look at your working patterns or lifestyle, and see your GP for advice about how to support you toward having healthy sleep.

In summary, whilst power naps may have benefits to a quick recharge of the mind and body, try and look at ways to improve your sleep hygiene if you find trouble sleeping. Perhaps reduce caffeine before bed, reduce stimulation by turning off the TV and reading a book instead, and speak to your GP who may have further advice and suggestions to help you get better sleep.

I hope you have found the blog of some help. Remember: it’s a journey. It will take time. Have patience in the process. You will get there. Until then, stay happy, stay healthy, and have a lovely weekend wherever you are on the planet.

And remember: love yourself. 

References:

Sleep Advisor. (2019). How To Power Nap For Amazing Brain And Body Benefits. Available: https://www.sleepadvisor.org/power-nap-benefits/. Last accessed 10th August 2019.

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A bit about the author:

I am a guy who is (nearly) 40, who is sharing a journey of weight management and wellbeing.I am also a mental health professional with a wealth of years of experience in supporting individuals who have challenging mental illnesses and personality disorders.

Prior to my current professional role, I spent several years supporting members of the community as a fitness professional, assisting individuals with weight loss and health improvement programmes.

I completed a PGDip in Mental Health Nursing in 2013, and an MSc in Advanced Practice in 2016 in which I looked at improving nurses’ level of engagement with patients with challenging personality disorders.

In 2018 I successfully undertook a Clinical reasoning in Physical Assessments course with the view to start studying toward becoming an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in late 2019.

In 2015 I also undertook a Mentorship for practice (BSc Hons) course and have been supporting future nurses with their training and development. I have also recently supported a Healthcare Assistant Staff toward training in and successfully passing and achieving a Foundation Degree in Mental Health Nursing.

In my current role I am a person looking to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the individual. As part of my role within the health services in supporting individuals with mental health care needs, I am also currently looking to develop myself as a Wellness Coach, to support the individual with weekly wellness blogs, with the view to support individuals on a 1:1 basis as well as holding motivational lectures and seminars.

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2 thoughts on “The joys (and health benefits) of power naps

  1. I wonder what will happen if I have a nap longer than 30 min?
    If I sleep longer than an hour during the day time, then I fall into a deep sleep for a upto 3 hours and it’s getting difficult to get up off the sofa. So times confusing where I am and what is real time of the day

    1. Hello and thank you for your reply The theory is that any sleep longer than a 30 minute power nap may cause you to offset your circadian rhythms, which may effect your overall sleep patterns and sleep health. This would explain why it is difficult for you to sleep in the evening if you have a prolonged nap during the day.

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