Get Your ZZZZ’s Boys
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If you’re nodding off during the afternoon slump in class, a power nap can make you more alert and productive, but only if you do it correctly. Scientists have been studying the power nap and their findings suggest that following the correct steps will help you get the most out of a power nap.
Find a good place to nap. In order to get the most out of your nap, you will need to find a place where you will not be disturbed by others. Choose a dark room. By blocking out the light, you will fall asleep faster. If you cannot get to a dark room, wear a sleep mask or at least a pair of sunglasses to provide some semblance of darkness.
Camelle Tieu, a BPHS junior, commented, “Turn off the lights.”
It is important to make sure it is not too warm or too cold. You want your napping to be comfortable, so look for a cool but comfortable place to nap. Most people sleep best around 65° F or 18° C. If your napping place is too cold, have a blanket ready or a comfortable jacket you can put on. If your napping place is too warm, consider placing a fan in the room, if possible.
Turning on soothing and relaxing music can put you in the right state of mind. If you find music distracting, you can also try white noise. If you are in your car, you can turn your radio to the static between stations and use that.
You should also try having caffeine right before you nap. This may sound counterintuitive since caffeine is a strong stimulant, but you will not feel the effects immediately, especially if you are taking a nap of fewer than thirty minutes. Caffeine has to travel through your gastrointestinal tract and can take up to 45 minutes to be absorbed. Taking a “caffeine nap,” in which 200mg of caffeine are consumed right before a 20 minute nap, may improve performance and make you feel less sleepy once you wake up.
However, if it is late in the afternoon you should probably skip the caffeine, as it may make it more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime. You can also skip the caffeine if you are trying to quit caffiene.
Decide how long you want to nap. Strictly speaking, a power nap should be between 10 and 30 minutes. However, shorter and longer naps may also offer different benefits. Thus, you need to decide how long you have to nap, and stick with that amount of time.
Nap for two to five minutes, if you don’t have much time. If you are so sleepy that you cannot continue on with whatever you’re doing, a two to five minute nap, called a “nano-nap,” can help you deal with some of that sleepiness. Naps between five and twenty minutes are good for increasing alertness, stamina, and motor performance. These naps are known as “mini-naps”. Sleeping for 20 minutes is what most people refer to when they refer to a “power nap” and is ideal for most people. In addition to the benefits of shorter naps, a power nap can help the brain rid itself of unnecessary information stored in short-term memory and can also improve muscle memory.
A power nap captures the benefits of the first two of the five stages in the sleep cycle. These first two stages take place in the first twenty minutes. In addition to making you feel more rested and alert, the electrical signals in your nervous system strengthen the connection between neurons involved in muscle memory, making your brain work faster and more accurately.
It can be especially useful to take a power nap if you are trying to remember a lot of important facts, for example, for a test.
Ann Mariel Pacada, a BPHS senior, commented, “At 11 pm, take a power nap for 15 minutes, and turn it into an 8 hour slumber.”
Getting up as soon as the alarm goes off resists the temptation to sleep longer. Ideally, you will wake up feeling refreshed, but you may sometimes feel like you want to sleep more. Do your best to resist this temptation as it can throw off your sleep routine and you may wake up the second time with sleep inertia.
It is crucial to follow up with physical activity. Get your heart rate up a bit by doing a few jumping jacks or push-ups. You can also try a bit of jogging in place. Also, try washing your face and exposing yourself to bright light (e.g. sunlight), which can help you feel more awake, if you are still feeling groggy after your nap.
With these steps, you are on a fail-proof course to feeling refreshed and energized.