Feeling groggy, tired or unmotivated in the afternoon? Using coffee, soda and energy drinks, we often try to push through the dreaded long day, yawning through the hours and fighting the fatigue. But it just so happens that the solution is the very thing we've been trying to avoid all along: sleep.
Truth is, the power nap is perhaps the most effective way to rejuvenate your brain. There are four main stages of your sleep cycle. The first two are relatively light sleep, while the third brings you into a deep slumber. The final stage known as rapid eye movement, or REM for short, is where most of your dreams begin.
The benefits of napping are tied to the length of time in which you are asleep. Naps 30 minutes in length generally only allow time to enter these first stages. In stage one, slow eye movement begins, and if woken, you often feel as though you didn't even sleep.
But as you continue into stage two, your brain begins to inhibit processing, and ignores external stimuli that it deems non-dangerous in order to relax you and give you a tranquil sleep. It also begins memory consolidation, in which information you learn is processed.
Waking out of these stages has shown benefits including increased productivity, increased cognitive function, enhanced memory, boosted creativity, and most importantly, feeling less tired.
Beyond 30 minutes you enter stage three and experience something known as sleep inertia when awakened, because your body is coming out of a deep sleep, motor dexterity is decreased, while grogginess and the longing to go back to sleep increases.
Many people falsely deem naps non-beneficial for themselves, but the truth is, they have simply napped too long. As the benefits of napping become clearer, many nap salons have opened throughout Japan, where workers can pay to have a brief lunchtime nap on a daybed to increase alertness at work.
So maybe it's about time we all start sleeping on the job a little more. Just tell your boss, "Science said so."
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