Understanding the Concept of Power Naps

power naps

Power naps can be a powerful tool, if used for good instead of evil.

power naps

The New York Times recently published an article on “Power Napping on Campus” to bring light to universities offering napping areas for tired undergraduates.   Nap nooks and nap pods were described as the latest rage on the quad. So what is the real deal with these $9,000 tiny cribs? Let’s look at the data.

What are the types of naps? First and foremost, it is important to understand the benefits in performance and alertness that comes from napping. There are even different categories of napping: replacement napping in response to lack of sleep previously, and appetitive napping, named for people who simply enjoy napping. Certainly people differ in their need for napping and experience different benefits from the hobby.

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A study in the Journal of Sleep Research, by Kimberly Cote et al from June 2009, offers clarity on the impact of napping.

When should you nap? Circadian rhythm, or our triggers for sleep and alertness during the day, leads to optimal performance and general patterns in our life. What time of day in our circadian rhythm is the best time to nap? Later nap times, example mid-afternoon, give the greatest benefit in performance and alertness when compared to a late morning nap.

How long should you nap? A study by Tietzle and Lack in 2002 compared 5,10,20, and 30-minute naps. The 10, 20, 30-minute naps produced improvements in cognitive performance and alertness, but the 5 minute nap did not. Performance was noticeably improved quicker following a 10-minute nap, at around 95 minutes, and following a 30-minute nap at around 155 minutes. In general it looked like the nap needed to be long enough to establish on set of sleep, but short enough to avoid needing to recover from the nap.

Can you nap for too long? Yes, this is a thing. Sleep researches talk about sleep inertia, a decreased in the ability to think and perform upon awakening due to sleep. Scientists understand that obviously one can be groggy after a nap and they have studied that after a longer nap, increases in confusion and lethargy occur immediately after the nap.


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Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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