The Wonderful Power of a Nap

Life has its way of wearing us down. From the hyper-connectivity social media frenzy to the busybody work days we put ourselves through; seldom do we have time to sit back and recharge. Since we often sleep-procrastinate mainly because of our fear of missing out, it’s hard to ever catch up on the unpaid sleep debt. Telling ourselves, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is good enough to accelerate our demise. Sleep is crucial; it essentially keeps our bodies stable and repairs our system, internally and externally. However, some of our livelihoods prevent of us from getting adequate sleep time, so we constantly put it off — unaware of the noxious effects that’s being placed upon us for every minute lost. Recently, napping has been proven to increase memory and restore an insufficient night’s sleep.

Fortunately, researchers at Sorbonne university in Paris found that just a 30-minute nap can reverse the deleterious effects of a short night’s sleep. The study was conducted on 11 healthy men between the ages of 25 and 32. The first night, all participants had a sufficient 8 hours of sleep. The second night, participants were limited to two hours of sleep. Upon waking up, researchers took samples of the participants urine and saliva to get a grasp of how the lack of sleep affected their hormonal levels. What researchers found was a major increase in norepinephrine — a stress hormone that raises blood sugar, heart rate, and blood pressure. Subsequently, the subjects napped for just 30 minutes and the results showed that all norepinephrine levels were returned to normal. This evinces the special restorative power of a day time power nap and how your brain recognizes that it must get the most of the abbreviated sleep session.

Another study conducted in Germany revealed that napping for 45 to 60 minutes can boost memory. Participants had to learn pairs of unconnected words and thereafter some were allowed to nap while others stayed up and watched a DVD. Those who napped were remarkably better at retrieving information. The brain’s region of memory — the hippocampus — seemed to be heightened after a nap.

Going forward, it would be wise of companies who push a lot of monotonous, mind-numbing tedium on employees to implement a nap period for better business. Google and technology-based companies have already added this to their work schedule to get the best of our their workers. Schools may soon do the same, so that students can be better apt to learning things in the allotted 8-9 hour school day rather than bringing work home to a distraction-filled environment. Napping can also increase alertness and we all know how many accidents occur because of a lack of sleep. If you’re feeling lethargic and sleepy, your brain might be directing you in the direction that will save your life. Nap your way to better productivity.

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