Power Nap: How It Works, How To Use It And Its Benefits.

The power nap (or power nap) is a discipline that has been booming for a few years. From high-level athletes to nap bars, power naps are a phenomenon all around the world. 

They practice it the most in France, it even comes into companies, and sees the birth of innovative start-ups such as Nap&Up (founded by Camille Desclée and Gabrielle De Valmont) which aim at democratizing the practice of power nap in companies.

And for good reason, in a society where everything goes faster and faster and where more and more people suffer from lack of sleep, the power nap seems to come at the right time.

In fact, between the 60s and 90s alone, we lost almost 2 hours of sleep per day.

Today in our sleep guide, we will see: What is the working principle of a power nap? How to make a successful and restorative power nap? What are the health benefits?

Power Nap: How It Works.

The main characteristic of the power nap is that, unlike a classic nap, it lasts only a few minutes.

You can easily practice it after your lunch break (or in the afternoon), or at home without disrupting your schedule.

We Are Programmed To Take A Nap.

Did you know that in reality the nap is programmed and demanded by our biological clock? According to Michel Tiberge, a neurologist at the sleep center of Toulouse, we are all programmed to fall asleep around 2 pm.

This is the reason why we have these small symptoms easily blamed on digestion, such as a drop in attention and eyes that tend to want to close by themselves.

This is the famous “coup de barre” which in our modern society is called napping which we still frowned upon or infantilized that we must resist at all costs.

Power Nap vs. Recovery Nap.

The regular nap is also called a power nap, unlike the classic nap, which is a recovery nap.

So, if the classic nap of 90 minutes on average allows us to make up for our sleep debts, the power nap allows you to recover in a few minutes the energy and concentration you need to carry out your activities.

What Is A Power Nap In Concrete Terms?

Those who have never practiced the power nap often wonder how it is possible to recover energy by sleeping only a few minutes.

Even worse, how is it possible to fall asleep in such a short time? The fact is that it is very difficult for most people to sleep “like that” on command and just by closing their eyes.

These questions arise, in fact, because we imagine that we must fall into deep REM sleep for a nap to be beneficial.

However, the purpose of the power nap is to benefit from the virtues of the nap by only reaching the phase of falling asleep and light sleep.

How Long Does A Power Nap Last?

The shortest power naps can last only a few minutes (2, 3, or 5 minutes for example). The majority of power nap practitioners make them last between 10 and 20 minutes.

They can go up to a maximum of thirty minutes. Beyond that, you risk falling into a deep sleep phase, and your power nap would then turn into a complete sleep cycle.

The Different Methods To Make A Power Nap.

There are several different methods to make a successful micro nap, it’s up to you to test them and find the one that suits you best. Some are designed to help you nod off quickly, others are designed to help you wake up before you fall into a deep sleep.

These different methods can also be combined for optimal results.

Salvador Dali’s Micro Nap.

Victor Hugo, Isaac Newton, Leonard De Vinci, Salvador Dali, and many other famous people already practiced the micro nap a long time ago. Salvador Dali was a notorious insomniac.

To mitigate the harmful effects of his insomnia, maintain his cognitive performance, and stimulate his creativity, the artist took daily power naps, with an original but effective technique.

To take an extremely short nap, Salvador Dali would sit comfortably in an armchair, holding a spoon in his hand and having a metal tray at his feet.

This way, when he started to fall asleep, the spoon would fall on the tray, and he would be immediately awakened by the noise.

This technique allowed him to doze off for a few minutes, and that was enough to make him regain the creativity and productivity that made him so famous.

Today, more “modern” versions of this method are taught in some companies where the power nap has been democratized. The technique remains the same, only the objects to be used change (as long as they make noise when falling, it’s ok).

For example, Caroline Rome, a sophrologist specializing in sleep, who leads workshops in hospitals as well as in large companies such as Axians (Vinci Energies), uses sets of keys.

Power Nap And Breathing.

Just as in other disciplines such as hypnosis or self-hypnosis, breath control is commonly used to take power naps lasting a few minutes. Indeed, controlling one’s breathing has several advantages:

  • Relaxing by breathing deeply through the belly (inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth).
  • Concentrating on your breathing to avoid “cogitating” is an excellent exercise to fall asleep quickly.

Your breathing should be slow and deep but not forced or blocked.

By focusing on your inhalations and exhalations, you will also focus your thoughts and will have no trouble relaxing and falling asleep because you will not be thinking about your daily worries, tasks to be accomplished, etc.

Power Nap And Muscle Relaxation.

To take a power nap, your body must also be relaxed. To do this, you can relax your muscles in the following ways:

  • Lie down comfortably, and make sure you won’t be disturbed by anything during your power nap session.
  • Start by contacting all your muscles (at the same time or one after the other) and then relax them completely. This will help you feel the release and the relaxation that comes with it more intensely. You can also stretch your muscles instead of contracting them.
  • As your muscles relax, you will usually feel a sensation of heaviness, as if your body is getting heavier and sinking into the mattress (or other surfaces you are lying on). Concentrate on this sensation, and sleep should come soon.

Power Nap And Positions.

In any case, for a successful power nap, you should find a comfortable position in which you can easily relax. However, it is possible to take a micro nap in several different positions, which will influence it.

For example, for a very short micro nap (5 to 10 minutes), choose a sitting position. Either by sitting comfortably in an armchair or by sitting in front of a table or a desk and resting your head on your crossed arms.

These sitting positions allow you to be comfortable enough to doze off, yet uncomfortable enough not to fall into a deep sleep.

For longer power naps (15 to 30 minutes), you can adopt a reclining position as you would for your night’s sleep. Preferably sleep on your back, loosen your shoes and clothes (belt, buttons, etc.) and spread your arms and legs slightly.

For this type of power nap, set your alarm clock to your nap time + 5 minutes. 

For example, for a 20-minute power nap, set your alarm clock for 25 minutes.

What Are The Benefits Of A Power Nap?

Brice Faraut, a neuroscientist specializing in sleep and author of the book “Sauvés par la sieste” (Saved by napping), cites in his book all the health benefits of napping that he has observed during his research at the University of Brussels and Paris Descartes:

  • Remedy cognitive fatigue (sleepiness, decreased performance, concentration difficulties, etc.).
  • Increase productivity.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Improve your memory.
  • Fight against insomnia.
  • Strengthen the immune system.
  • Increase growth in children.
  • Protect yourself from disorders such as overweight, obesity, cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduce hyperalgesia (sensitivity to pain).
  • An instantaneous state of well-being.

If the classic and long nap has some contraindications, especially for insomniacs, the power nap has none.

If it does not cure insomnia by itself, it contributes to the fight against its undesirable effects, which can already greatly relieve those who suffer from this type of sleep disorder.

Overall, the power nap allows you to relax in just a few minutes, which is a big advantage even for those with a busy schedule. This relaxation is more in-depth, as much for your brain as for your whole body.

Sleep Deprivation And Its Dangers.

While napping has many proven virtues, resisting its call can have unfortunate consequences.

Here are the consequences and losses of banning napping in the workplace according to an American study:

  • An estimated $18 billion in lost productivity in the United States alone.
  • 1500 deaths per year due to drowsy driving, as well as 100,000 accidents per year and 76,000 injuries per year.

Another danger is that of thinking that power naps can replace hours of sleep during the night. In fact, some people who practice power napping on a daily basis tend to do so more often during the day and to have shorter nights of sleep.

Remember that an adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night on average.

Besides, the power nap is not recuperative but energizing, which is not the same thing. It allows you to regain energy during the hours that follow, but it is not enough to make up for your sleep debt.

Don’t count on it to repair the damage of short nights of less than 7 hours. On the other hand, the micro nap will allow you to remain efficient whether for physical or intellectual activities.

If some athletes practicing high-level sports tend to use it (navigators, aviators, etc.) to make long performances of several days, it remains only temporary and is accompanied by a specific training as well as an adapted medical follow-up.

FAQ.

Why Do I Wake Up From A Nap Feeling Tired All The Time?

It must have already happened to you: you wake up from a long nap feeling as tired as or even more tired than before sleeping. This phenomenon is called sleep inertia. It is a state of confusion and fatigue that occurs after one or more complete sleep cycles.

Sleep inertia also occurs in the morning after a full night’s sleep, which is why many people are slow to get up.

Practicing micro naps rather than long naps allows you to avoid this state of sleep inertia, which takes several long minutes to fade, and which can be embarrassing and unpleasant in the middle of the day.

What Is The Ideal Duration Of A Nap?

The ideal duration of a nap is the duration of a power nap, that is to say between 10 and 20 minutes approximately, by taking care not to exceed 30 minutes.

Why Is A Nap That Is Too Long Less Beneficial Than A Power Nap?

A nap after 3 pm and/or a nap that is too long may cause you to have insomnia, or to sleep later in the evening, by reducing the length of your night. Napping too long can also disrupt your day because of sleep inertia.

You may wake up tired, confused, and get the opposite effect of what you want, namely less productivity and sleepiness that may not fade until early evening.

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