Some of the most well-known businesses and organizations out there — think Google, Nike, NASA — have realized that napping can help boost productivity. That’s why many are investing in nap pods and transforming conference spaces into sleep rooms.
“The idea that napping is only for preschoolers is simply not true,” says Raj Dasgupta MD, a professor of pulmonary and sleep medicine at the University of Southern California.
In actuality, power naps offers a myriad of health benefits, from helping to relieve stress to increasing alertness.
But how, exactly, should you go about adding power naps to your daily schedule? Check out our guide to power naps, below, to find out how to you can successfully catch a bit more shut-eye.
The benefits of power naps
A good nap allows for the recovery of brain function, memory consolidation, the ridding of toxins that build up throughout the day, and a burst of energy, says Camilo A. Ruiz, DO, medical director at Choice Physicians Sleep Center in South Florida.
“There’s a drive for us to seek sleep at some point during the day,” he says. As this process builds up, it overcomes you, putting you to sleep at night. “The idea with napping is that we can reset that trigger and hopefully be able to function at a higher level,” Ruiz adds.
In sleep-deprived people, research suggests naps increase alertness, work performance, and learning ability, adds Dr. Dasgupta. Other research finds power naps can even help to boost immune function.
Who should nap?
Not everyone needs to nap. For one, people with insomnia shouldn’t nap, explains Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist based in Manhattan Beach, California. If you have insomnia, daytime naps can wind up making you feel like you don’t need to sleep as much at night, potentially worsening your condition.
“If you’re getting good restorative sleep and functioning well during the day, you likely don’t need to nap,” adds Dasgupta.
But here’s the catch: More than one-third of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of seven hours of sleep a night. So, you might not be sleeping as well as you think.
“There are plenty of people who say, ‘I think I sleep fine,’ but if you did a sleep study on them, they’d have underlying sleep issues,” says Ruiz.
If you notice your productivity starts to wane, you can’t process information as quickly as you could in the morning, or you regularly daydream or feel like there’s a “fog” you can’t work through, you could benefit from a power nap, Ruiz adds.
How does a power nap compare to a coffee?
While there are plenty of other energizing stimulants out there, like coffee, nothing is better than sleep, explains Ruiz. Sleep is truly restorative for both the brain and body.
It also helps fight back against sleep debt, which can contribute to the progression of chronic disease and mood disorders, according to the CDC, in addition to low energy and low productivity.
“We sleep for a reason — to rest and restore,” says Ruiz.
“Coffee and other stimulants are short-lived, unlike a true nap, which can provide you with an extra two or three hours of alertness. [That’s] more than you can get from coffee.”