Improving Your Genius With The Art of Power Napping

Power napping has proven to have several impressive benefits from reducing stress to increasing productivity through heightened cognition!

Sarah McKay is a neuroscientist who will take us deeper into the world of napping and explain why everyone should “indulge their neurobiology”.

Sarah McKay - TEDx - Power Napping - Indulge your neurobiology

Why Power Nap If You Get Enough Nightly Sleep?
Many people think that power napping is only important for those who do not get enough sleep at night.

This is simply not true!

Power napping can benefit everyone, whether you get no sleep or 8 hours of it at night.

This is because there are different stages of sleep. At nighttime, we are indulging in stage 3 sleep, also known as deep sleep. This is important to allow our brain to drain toxins and pollutants, replenish itself, as well as to process all the information we learned during the day.

Power napping does not allow us to enter this state of deep sleep, but instead, it encourages stage 1 or 2 of sleep. This holds the benefits of allowing the brain to better process information as well as replenish itself without feeling groggy.

Waking up after a nap leaves us feeling refreshed in a matter of minutes as opposed to hours!

This is why everyone can benefit from power napping, even if you get adequate sleep at night. It’s one of the best ways to clear your mind, particularly in the afternoons.

Surprising Neurological Benefits of Power Napping
Aside from feeling refreshed, power napping yields a few other surprising benefits for our brains.
1) Speeds Up Memory, Integration & Learning
As we mentioned above, power napping can help us to process information[1]Encoding Difficulty Promotes Postlearning Changes in Sleep Spindle Activity during Napping.

This is not only important for students who are learning or athletes who are in training, but it helps people to solve problems. This applies to everyone without any exceptions.

As the day wears on, our ability to solve problems lessens as we take in more information.

The same is true for the way in which we focus, what and how we perceive the world around us, and how much information we can take in visually.

Napping proved to negate the effects of this “perceptual degeneration,” effectively broadening people’s ability to focus on and see more in their range of vision[2]The restorative effect of naps on perceptual deterioration.

In further experiments done, it was shown that napping in between courses helped learners to assimilate information better.

Moreover, the quality of memory improves after power napping[3]Neuroscience: Re-recording human memories, helping individuals to recall information faster and with more clarity.

2) Improves Cognition & Alertness
In a study that tested the effects of napping on cognition and mental alertness, power napping showed significant improvements in people after just 10minutes![4]The recuperative value of brief and ultra‐brief naps on alertness and cognitive performance

These benefits did not apply to the participants in this same study who napped for 1-2minutes.

Later research has shown us that these brain benefits of napping only apply to us when we reach stage 2 sleep.

Stage 2 sleep is also the stage of sleep where people often dream. Interestingly, waking up directly after having a dream allows for one to remember it more clearly.

This technique has been used by many geniuses in history, including the surrealism artist Salvidor Dali who would take a power nap and then translate his dreams in the form of paint on a blank canvas. As Sarah McKay mentions above, power napping also allows one to be more creative!

If you keep a dream journal, power napping can help you to observe aspects of your subconscious mind by remembering and recording more of your dreams.

From a psychological perspective, understanding your subconscious mind can help you to overcome internal fears or work with subconscious impressions that may affect the choices you make in life.

3) Counteracts Information Fatigue (& Fatigue In General)
Seeing as power napping helps our brain to process and integrate the information, it makes sense that it aids us fight against information fatigue.

Information fatigue is where one becomes utterly exhausted and sometimes even depressed because one is overloaded with too much information. After a power nap, some of this information has been processed, and one feels refreshed and ready to go again!

Power napping does more than just boost mental fatigue; however – it also fights fatigue in general!

Truck drivers who drive very far distances on monotonous roads have been prone to becoming so exhausted that they fall asleep behind the wheel. Naturally, it’s this is incredibly dangerous and has lead to some of the worst automobile accidents the world has ever seen.

In one study, it was shown that power napping ameliorated the effects of this level of fatigue, allowing drivers to hit the road again without nodding off behind the wheel.[5]Counteracting driver sleepiness: Effects of napping, caffeine, and placebo

The effects of power napping were not as effective as a cup of coffee; however, coffee supplies us with fake energy that will overtime lead to increased levels of drowsiness due to adrenal fatigue. In the long run, power napping is superior.

4) Lowers Stress Levels
Napping tends to make one feel at ease, lowering stress levels and improving mood.

This was proven with nurses in hospitals, who arguably have one of the most stressful occupations.

Two groups of nurses were observed during long hours of a night shift rotation. The group of nurses that had 2 short power naps during their rotation had significantly less tension than those who worked without napping[6]Effects of Two 15-min Naps on the Subjective Sleepiness, Fatigue and Heart Rate Variability of Night Shift Nurses.

This is possibly one of the reasons that power napping is so effective, as anxiety, inflammation or stress all interfere with optimal cognition.

5) Enhances Neuroplasticity
Due to the way power napping helps our brains to consolidate information, it’s not that surprising that it promotes neuroplasticity too.

In an experiment done on rats with neurodegenerative symptoms, electrical impulses were induced in their brains which emulated the effects of taking a nap[7]Power nap stimulation to enhance memory consolidation in aging and neurodegenerative disease. The results showed improved neuroplasticity, cognition, memory and motor control.

These are promising results for those who wish to prevent neurodegeneration and keep their minds young and healthy!

Tips & Tricks: How To Master The Art of Power Napping
It doesn’t take much to master power napping, but the below tips can help those who would like to and who find it difficult to fall asleep in the middle of day.
1) Optimal Power Napping Length
The ideal length for a power nap is anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes, with there being very little difference between the two.

This is good news as it means you can grab a quick nap during a break at work before returning to your tasks fully replenished and ready to go!

Any less time than this results in stage 1 sleep, which has minimal effect aside from allowing your body to rest for a bit. If you sleep for more than this during the day, you risk waking up feeling groggy from stage 3 sleep, which needs a few hours to wits magic.

45-60 minutes of napping yielded good results for those who were sleep deprived, but for those who get enough sleep at night, this was too long.

For more information on power napping specifics, here are some excellent guides!

2) Progressive Relaxation Techniques
If you are too wired or tense to simply indulge in a 20min power nap during the day, then progressive relaxation techniques could be a very useful way to ease yourself into some sleep.

These often involve focusing on your breathing or taking your mind elsewhere to calm your body down. This also counts as a form of mindfulness meditation, which has multiple other benefits and is a great way to make the most out of your nap time!

Enhance your focus, reduce stress, and get a grip on how you perceive the world through learning how to meditate!
3) Supplements That Enhance the Benefits of Power Napping
If you battle to sleep in general, whether at night or during the day, then you may want to consider a supplement.

Statistically, many sleep disorders have been linked to nutritional deficiencies, particularly in regards to Vitamin D3.

Vitamin D3 has been clinically proven to help people with sleeping disorders and is quickly being considered as the number one nutritional deficit on a global scale.

This powerful Vitamin is required for our immune system, to reduce inflammation, to maintain optimal bone health and to ensure optimal brain, heart and lung function. If you have a respiratory problem or allergies, this can also aid you to breathe better and reduce the effects of allergy.

Eating more green vegetables and brightly colored fruits will significantly enhance your dietary nutrition.

Green vegetables contain an especially high level of antioxidants. By adding this green powder into smoothies or raw food every day, you can start to boost your health.

Fulvic Acid is another brilliant supplement which can drastically improve the absorption of the above nutrients.

This substance is traditionally found in trace amounts on our vegetables to help plants and animals absorb minerals, but due to poor farming practices, the soils now lack this potent electrolyte.

Add a few drops to your smoothies or drinking water and make sure to take a break every few weeks to keep it in balance.

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