Thursday, June 01, 2006

Benefits of Power Napping

I am the Queen of napping. I can nap anywhere, anytime. It's one of my many talents. Even my cat is in awe of my skills.

Around 2:30 everyday, I am at rest. I'm in a semi-conscious state - not sound asleep but not fully awake. I can ease out of this wonderful place without a jarring effect. And when I emerge from my catnap, some 20 minutes later, I feel so good.

The benefits of napping have been well documented. Research has shown that a nap can promote physical well-being, improve mood and memory, sharpen senses and revitalize a person. The neurons in brain functioning get to rest and recuperate from the day's stress. Intellectual performance improves from the boost a midday nap provides and accuracy in performance increases too. MRI's of nappers show that brain activity stays high throughout the day with a nap. Without one, it declines as the day wears on.

Research also says that taking a nap of 30 minutes a day is better than sleeping 30 minutes later in the morning. And from another psychological perspective, falling into a light sleep can feel meditative (like my semi-conscious experience). As you nap, the dreams and streams of thoughts you experience may offer insights you may not be able to grasp at night when you are in a deep sleep.

When you sleep under normal circumstances, your brain cycles through several different stages of Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma sleep waves. You drift from one stage of sleep to another - from light sleep to deeper sleep to REM sleep to wakefulness and so on. Delta and Theta sleep, also known as Sleep I and Sleep II stages, are light stages of sleep. So, the key to napping is to not fall into the deeper stages of sleep. That's why a 15 to 30 minute nap is recommended. Napping more than that, and you'll find yourself waking up cranky or groggy.

The good old catnap has new names, like "The Power Nap", "Powernapping" and "Metronapping". In fact, there is an emerging trend where science fiction-like pods and snoozing suites are popping up in workplaces, universities, and malls. Take a look here and here

Some famous self-proclaimed nappers include Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci , Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Johannes Brahms, John D. Rockefeller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gene Autry, Nikola Tesla, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Napoleon Bonaparte, Salvador Dali and Sylvester Stallone.

So, science and psychology say we should embrace the siesta - and not view the snoozing in the middle of the day as being lazy. Napping is not just for the young and the old. It can be a good thing for us all.


Hayahsi, M.; Motoyoshi, N.; Hori, T. (2005). Recuperative power of a short daytime nap with or without stage 2 sleep. Sleep, 128:829-36.

Mednick, S.l Nakayam, K.; Stockgold, R. (2003). Sleep-dependent learning: A nap is as good as a night. Neuroscience, 6(7): 697-698.

Mednick, S. & Stickgold,R. (2002). The restorative effect of naps on perceptual deterioration. Nature Neuroscience. 5(7): 677-681.


Anonymous said...

I've been reading about this. I remember my spanish teacher talking about the siesta ritual and saying we here in the US needed to adopt it too. Some I know do consider it "lazy" to nap and one young lady I know is afraid to sleep in the daylight because she always got in trouble for it as a child. Total bummer eh? Thanks for the informative always, a pleasure.

Joshua said...

Napping is a favorite hobby in our household. While I don't take advantage of it as often as my wife does (what can I say I use it as a chance to play a video game...even at 32 years old :) ) but it is something we both embrace fully. I just wish I had the opportunity to take a quick nap in the afternoon here at work. Oh well, in time :)

Dirk the Feeble said...

Napping rocks!

By the way, you forgot one of our nation's most important nappers - George Dubya. I heard he naps for as much as 14 hours a day. If 30 minutes is good, 14 hours must be Hitleriffic!

Ian Lidster said...

Oh -- the old 2:30 ebb. I was told it pertains to blood sugar. But, thank you, Deb, for explaining it so succinctly. Thank you too for mentioning nap dream time. I often have the most amazing dreams when I grab 40-winks later in the afternoon. Sort of like acid, with no repercussions. Oh, I love napping, just like you. The only time I can never nap, which irritates me, is on a long plane trip. I was once traveling from London to Seattle and the young guy sitting next to me slept virtually the whole time. How I envied him.
Cheers, Ian

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Traci,
I have family members who yell at their grown children for napping. What's up with that? I hope they read my blog. They know who THEY are :)

Dear Joshua,
It's been said that playing video games for a short time increases brain functioning too. Recently on NPR, I heard them talk about a study where surgeons who played a short video game performed surgeries more efficiently. Though I'd much rather nap than play video games. I was never a gamer.

Dear Dirk,
Oh, you made me lol!
You are truly so clever!!!!!!!


Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Ian,
You must have posted as I commented. Don't think that I meant to leave you out.

Most of my writing bursts come from the reverie I experience when in that semi-slumber place. It is a great refueler, right, I agree.


Sarebear said...

If I could get my sleeping under control, this would be awesome! But lately I can't sleep at night at all!! I stayed up most of yesterday (cause when I can't sleep at night, of course I sleep some during the day) and still only got about 2 hours of sleep. I gave up and got up at 5 am.

Stupid med issues, I guess, but anyway! I'm gonna go sleep, but since I'll be hitting all the REM states, it probably isn't a nap. Going to aim for 4 hours, and see if I can sleep tonight (after just 6 hours of sleep in the last 36, and no hours of sleep in the 24 before that . . .)

SURE you had to go and post about sleep today . . . .!!!!

Tai said...


I'm a big fan of afternoon naps, too.
To bad my work just isn't on the same page as me!

Sunnie Dee said...

This is very interesting to read. I often nap on my way to and from work but not during the day however many of my collegues do, my workplace has several comfortable couches where you can almost always see someone napping during their break. There is also a room with an actual bed in.

Dreaming again said...

I don't nap as often as doctor's orders are (daily), but I do nap some.

My pastor says the holiest thing you can do on a Sunday is to take a nap. *grin* Our whole family, including our teenage boys will often be found around 3 in the afternoon, quietly resting, if not actually napping on a Sunday, doing our 'holy duty'. It's become quite the joke, but I hope it becomes a fond memory as well as an extended family tradition.

ellenweber said...

What a great site -- and thanks for the inspirational and research reminders to power nap at work... There is new research out to support all you say here so well! Great stuff....

Tillerman said...

Thank you for this. My wife always criticizes me when I take a nap. I tell her that the ability to nap is a rare gift and that she should be proud of me for having this talent. Your post gives me even better arguments.

Joshua said...

I tried to use that line of thinking on my wife to get a little more game playing in. She just returns with "but you aren't studying to be a surgeon." It was a good try eh? I do find that naps feel amazing on a warm weekend afternoons on the balcony especially after a good bike ride.

HAHA too funny.

mysti said...

I have been taking a nap every day for as long as I can remember. I always feel better if I can sleep just 30 minutes! Thanks for sharing this study.... I can now go take a nap with out guilt!

A Flowered Purse said...

funnily enough i just woke up from a cat nap. Now i can feel good about it!
Have a wonderful day Dr Deb

Id it is said...

Thanks Deb, you just rid me of some guilt! Those are some great reasons for taking that quick afternoon nap, besides it does place me in some august company as well!

Darni said...

Napping is good . . . we make children take them and they are always full of energy.

Napping is wonderful. A ringing phone while you're trying to nap is . . . the devil.

Dawn said...

yup, I could use a nap right now. i think if i were to lie down, i'd sleep till 10 though, so i'll refrain :)

i've always envied the person that is able to nap.

i must learn how to nap, one of these days. i'd probably be less cranky :)

Beth said...

I nap a lot. I'm good at napping.

I often see it as a waste of time and that I should be doing something more productive, but there isn't really anything else going on at the moment. I'm having a really hard time and sleeping through it seems like a good option.

Heidi said...

I don't nap often but when I do it's almost turns into an hr..Not good..I would wake up groggy then can't get to sleep atnight.

Deb S. said...

Ah, the joys of napping. One of the nice things about being a consultant is that I can nap more often. I can't do that if I'm working a traditional job.

Wendy C. said...

Ahhhhh...the power nap

Maybe if I reference this article, my boss will quit shaking her head and laughing when I tell her we should get a cotfor the break room :-)

Angel Chasse said...

Hey Dr Deb :)

Great post! For me, two things came to mind reading this post.
1> I don't nap well. I think I am programmed for "sleep long time" or "no sleepy sleepy" :) - any advice on how to just do 20 minutes of light rest?
2> Is it weird to think you should have a pen and paper by the bed? For me it's so that when weird thoughts, or for me more often, thoughts of things that I wish I knew about (ie. Things, or people I want to google) come up. Seems I will get into bed, be talking with Jim about such and such, and one of us will say... "we should look that up" -- and of course, come morning, can't remember what we were going to look at :) Ok.. that was a long sentence :) LOL
Have a great evening!!!

Angel Chasse (again)

Rose said...

I so wish that I could so this without it affecting my sleep at night. Whenever I take a nap I can't go back to sleep at bedtime. When I get more than 4-5 hours of sleep I feel exhausted. But most people I know swear that cap napping takes the edge off and makes you feel more energized, yet rested.

dragonflyfilly said...

ahhhh yes, naps, i love to nap...good thing too. when i first became ill and was not sleeping, my Dr. told me not to worry, to sleep in sets of four hours throughout the day. and so i did, and eventually, as i started feeling better, i am somewhat able to get back into a more regular sleep pattern. 6 to 7 hours sleep, then at about 4-4:30 i crash for about a 1/2 hour. i think some people are ashamed to admit that they nap, maybe because they associate it with being lazy, or because they think only old people nap!!!

a fun post, Deb
cheers for now,

alan said...

I've never been one who could do that, on purpose anyway.

You can add Sylvester Stallone to that list, according to his book "Sly Moves"!


Wanda's Wings said...

Right now I wish I could go to sleep. My brain won't shut down yet. I can alway "nap" later. lol

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Sarebear,
The sleep cycle can be easily disrupted, so be mindful about that. Hope you can find the Zzz's you need.

Dear Tai,
Oh, there are so many business articles and research that tout napping. Here's one:

Dear Sonnie,
New Zealand rocks!!!!!

Dear Dreaming,
I like you approach to napping!

Dear BBB,
So glad you stopped by for a visit. I think highlighting a post with research and references helps to ground the information in reality.

Dear Tillerman,
Now you have research to back you up, lol!

Dear Joshua,
Surgeon or not, if it gives you something positive, what's wrong with it? Your wife sounds like she has great wit!

Dear Mysti,
I am with you on that !!!

Dear Dianna,
That is so TOTALLY funny that you just woke up from one before going online!

Dear Id It Is,
I like when we can realize that things we do are not so "terrible", like napping and eating chocolate ;)

Dear Darni,
When you nap, any noise is quite distracting, you are right. I often nap in the small guest bedroom we have, where there is no tv, radio. Nice and quiet.

Dear Dawn,
A nap does not mean that you have to fall asleep. Think of the cats and dogs in your they just "rest". They can awaken in a second, and it sometimes is as if they are not even sleeping at all. A good nap is about RESTING. I hope you can tune out, flop down, and just relax.

Dear Beth,
Napping is a good thing. It's great that you know how to do it!

Dear Heidi,
Make sure that you are not napping too late in the day. The best time to nap is about 8 hours after you get up. Hope this can help.

Dear DCS,
It is true that when you freelance, or are self emplyed you can schedule things like a nap much easier. But more businesses are finding that a midday siesta benefits productivity. These forward thinking places rock in my book!

Dear Wendy,
I think leaving the boss a series of printed articles about napping will do the trick!!

Dear Angel,

Dr. Sara Mednick a sleep nap specialist recommends the following:

1 The first consideration is psychological: Recognize that you're not being lazy; napping will make you more productive and more alert after you wake up.

2 Try to nap in the morning or just after lunch; human circadian rhythms make late afternoons a more likely time to fall into deep (slow-wave) sleep, which will leave you groggy.

3 Avoid consuming large quantities of caffeine as well as foods that are heavy in fat and sugar, which meddle with a person's ability to fall asleep.

4 Instead, in the hour or two before your nap time, eat foods high in calcium and protein, which promote sleep.

5 Find a clean, quiet place where passersby and phones won't disturb you.

6 Try to darken your nap zone, or wear an eyeshade. Darkness stimulates melatonin, the sleep- inducing hormone.

7 Remember that body temperature drops when you fall asleep. Raise the room temperature or use a blanket.

8 Once you are relaxed and in position to fall asleep, set your alarm for the desired duration, 5 -10 20 or 30 minutes, or have someone wake you so you don't go into a longer sleep cycle.

Dear Rose,
Everyone has different night time sleeping needs. I can go 10 hours a night, where my hubby can do with 5 or 6). But, sleeping during the day can easily throw a night time sleep cycle off. The key is to find the right balance for what words for you.

Dear PJ,
I am glad that the notion of being lazy is wearing away these days. Years ago, I knew a person who was fired from her job because she would rest her head on her desk every now and then after lunch. This person was a trailblazer back then. Pity others saw it in a negative light.

Dear Alan,
I will add Sly now. Thanks for the info. How was X-III?

Dear Wanda,
Training yourself may help. Meditation, self hypnosis, etc. can sometimes aid in slowing down a racing brain. It is so hard when you want to rest, but the mind and body are not cooperating. I know!!


jumpinginpuddles said...

hmmm so the benefits of a siesta are let me get this kids who sleep at approriate times, making sure that no one calls during siesta, leaving everything so you can have siesta. Ok done that, its ten pm and stuff the siesta im going for the bed time nap ;) LOl you are right it is refreshing and helpful but if you cant do it just now maybe later on you can if you are lucky ;;)

Suze said...

Just curious. When you awaken from your nap, do you feel quite creative? Some of my best ideas come to me upon opening my eyes. Thanks for the great info.

east village idiot said...

I couldn't agree with you more. 2:30 is my dead zone. It woud be great if more organizations instituted a nap time. It would certainly cancel out the day dreaming we do instead.

wolfbaby said...

I like your site I think I will put it on my list.

Dawn said...

really? when you nap you don't sleep, i will definately have to try that, then. here i was thinking all this time that you're supposed to fall asleep :(

have a great weekend

dragonflyfilly said...

yeah, i can identify with your trailblazer friend...i worked as a temp. for awhile at Vancouver's only (at the time)Conservative "ThinkTank" - the Fraser Instute; there were only two men running it at the time, i think one was named Michael, anyway, i used to sleep on my lunch hour (i used to party hard during the week) until he put a stop to it. He told me he expected me to be out and about, looking in bookstores for ideas on what was up and coming in literature etc, and that i was to report back to him what i had learned. Can you Imagine, what a cheek, "working" on my lunch hour, but there you are...[this is a true story!] ...i quickly looked for another job!

jumpinginpuddles said...

and i was just thinking you arent sleeping when you see clients are you because i reckon that would be kind of disconcerting ;) LOL im teasing you :P

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear JIP,
Siestas are good if you can make the time to take one. Alas, it is not easy for many.

Dear Suze,
I find myself energized and often creatively energized.

Dear EVI,
My nap zone is about 7 - 8 hours after I've awakened. Usually around 2:30. So funny, we have the same time zone.

Dear Wolfbaby,
I will stop by and visit yours soon.

Dear Dawn,
Sometimes I fall into a light sleep....semi-awake. Other times, I just rest. I close my eyes, relax. Usually grab on of the cats to purr along next to me as I rest. Napping does not necessarily mean sleeping. I hope it can work for you :)

Dear PJ,
Good thing you looked for work elsewhere.

Dear JIP,
No, I never take a siesta or a nap when I am working. I an full on in the attention and focus when in sessions. You made me lol, though!



Nancy said...

I hope we can share the throne because my kids think I am the Queen of Naps.
I nap everday, a quick 30-40 mins and it does wonders for me.
thanks for the info and now i can quote a Doc saying its a good thing.
take care

for_the_lonely said...

I love to take naps...but I have a hard time taking cat naps! I like the solid hour plus For some reason when I take a cat nap, I do not feel energized..then again, I do have insomnia, so perhaps that is why a longer nap is called for! LOL Either way, sleep is wonderful! LOL

Wishing you a beautiful weekend..with a few cat naps! :)


healthpsych said...

Einstein to Stallone. That's some spectrum!!

I do believe in the power of the nap and I wish I could do it myself. Whenever I try it though, I end up feeling much worse. Maybe I should try some of your tips!

Leesa said...

I wish I could nap...but I can just never seem to fall asleep during the day. I have hear that it can be really for you.

Moof said...

The only time I nap is if I'm sick. Otherwise, napping leaves me groggy and ... well, strange. *LOL*

I'm not much of a sleeper ...

Great post!

Sarebear said...

I think I'm better able to sleep, now. Today I went and "rested" about 90% awake, on the bed, about 3-4 hours after getting up because I was "daid" as we call it in my house (my little girl is so cute when she asks me if I'm "daid")

Anyway, I was proud of myself for NOT falling asleep, and for getting up about 35-40 minutes later.

I think I'll be able to fall asleep tonight, yahoo!

Your kind advice was warmly received by me, and I keep it in my mind as I fight the tiredness and the urges to go to bed (as well, when I retreat from the pain that is my world and my wholeness of living, my whole LIFE) I go lay in bed and curl up with the blankets. So now I've just identified as I write, that perhaps there's some emotional issues there (more fodder for therapy!)

Anyhoo, thanks for that advice, and unintentionally and inadvertently being the catalyst for my insight.

brooklyn babe said...

Beautiful study.
Now I don't have to tell the boss, that I wasn't praying, I was nappin'
You know, sharpening my skillz... lol!

CrackerLilo said...

I like to nap sometimes; I just don't get the opportunity. If I had it my way, I'd nap more and be more of a night person.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear NAncy,
We can share the crown ;)

Dear Sarah,
The important thing is that you are giving yourself time to refuel, sleeping or resting is is great!

Dear Healthpsych,
They are not *my* tips, just for the record. They were culled from the references below the post. I do agree that for many, a sleeping nap can make them feel more tired, perhaps a resting nap for you?

Dear Leesa,
Maybe jutt resting can work for you. Not sleeping, but rather just being at ease.

Dear Moof,
Different strokes, right?

Dear Sarebear,
How cool is that!!!I am so delighted that you were able to use some of the tips and get a little rest time in. Hooray!!

Dear Brooklyn Babe,
Oh, your post made me lol!

Dear Crackerlilo,
We gotta do what's best for us. Sometimes we can do it, and other times we just have to wish it!


Marj aka Thriver said...

Hey, I think we should have a nap-off! LOL! I thought for SURE that I was the queen of napping! I have to be careful, though. If I'm currently having any trouble sleeping at night, I actually have to stay away from the naps (as tempting as they are when I'm tired). I just discovered yoga nidra recently. Ever heard of it? It's great for that semi-conscious state of rest without actually falling all the way to sleep.

Scruffybutt said...

I try to make Mommy nap in the afternoons. I stare at her until she looks at me. Then, I scamper to the bedroom and look back to see if she's following. If not, I go back and nip her ankles and try again. Sigh. Humans are kind of dense sometimes.

Candace said...

Hi, Deb - Have you ever posted anything about hoarding? Gah! I just posted about a tenant who moved out of the house we're moving into - I found out the hard way that she was a hoarder. I feel sorry for her, but at the same time, my property is damaged. It seems to be part of OCD, right? Is there a root cause? Childhood trauma, or something like that?

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Marj,
I think I would like that kind of yoga. When I nap, sometimes I fall asleep, whereas other times I am in a meditative place. Very wonderful.

Dear Scruffy,
I love that you try to get your Mommy to rest with you. Sounds like you try some really good ways to get her there. Alas, we humans are not always with it. You pups have way more smarts and senses than we do. :)


Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Candace,
OMG, I just finished a post yesterday on hoarding. I will get it up later this week. How "esp"-ish of you!


Candace said...

Deb, I'll be especially looking forward to your article on hoarding. It just didn't dawn on me that hoarding was the real problem with this woman. I don't know much about the disorder, just what I Googled.

Amit said...

If only they started realising in the UK the amazing and powerful benefits of powernapping. It's very rare in the UK to have the time or a place to nap within the workplace. In many countries it is the norm to allow a nap during the day.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Amit,
The Siesta, and the afternoon closing of stores is something we should all embrace. Alas, I agree, many countries don't.


Rose said...

I use to nap a lot until I developed insomia.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Rose,
Wow, that must be hard to do from being able to rest to NOT being to rest at all.

Hope it can change soon for you.

Anonymous said...

Having worked the graveyard shift for
over a decade, I think a lot about sleep.
Years ago, people on the graveyard shift
took more naps than they do now. Managers
are so much more strict now, even about
napping on lunch periods. It's more of
this corporate power trip business. Guess
that most people make up for it by eating more.

cheesemeister said...

Sleep is highly underrated. And our society and our personal health suffers because of it.

cheesemeister said...

Oh, eating, napping and the graveyard shift. How well I know!
I gained 30 pounds when I went back into working healthcare, and on the graveyard shift yet. I'm now pretty careful but sometimes the bag of cookies from the vending machine is purchased. I really can't drink much coffee so this is my only option.
I do nap but I'm on "red alert" in case the phone or the pager go off, so my naps aren't terribly restful. However they can mean the difference between getting home with the car intact or driving off the road!

MAUMI said...

i am personally experienced on the benefits of power nap..i usually sleep for 30-40 mins in the afternoon..and the suls have been sowng for the past 20 years of my student life.
i am quite active and perform well in class.Unfortunately,many parents believe in waking their kids up to study when their body might b craving for sleep..
this should be stopped for better performing skills of the future generation.

Green Bean said...

I think it is very cool that you respond to replies Dr.Deb...very seldom do you see a web site so informative at such a personal level. I dont have trouble sleeping anymore, I just wanted to say I appreciate the personal level of this site. Thanks:)