Naps and Brain Benefits

475981169-smallNapping can have great benefits for your brain and body, but sometimes after waking up a from a nap, you feel groggy and almost as if you are more tired than you were before taking the nap. When you sleep for too long during a nap, you fall into a stage of sleep that is difficult to get out of.

Sleep experts suggest that taking a 10 to 20 minute power nap can give you a quick burst of alertness and mental clarity when you don’t have much time. This length limits you to the lighter stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep, making it easier to get moving after waking up.

Studies show that sleeping for 30 minutes may cause sleep inertia, a hangover-like groggy feeling that can last for up to 30 minutes after waking up, before the nap’s restorative benefits become apparent.

60 minute long naps are best for improvement in remembering facts, faces and names. Hour long naps include “slow-wave” sleep which is the deepest type. The downside for sleeping this long is some grogginess upon waking up.

A full cycle of sleep is 90 minutes long, which includes the lighter and deeper stages, REM sleep and the dreaming stage. 90 minute long naps can lead to improved emotional and procedural memory and creativity. A nap of this length is typically easier to wake up from as well.

If you plan on taking shorter naps, it helps to sit up slightly as it will allow you to avoid falling into a deeper sleep. If you dream during these power naps, then it could be a sign that you are sleep deprived and need to get more hours of quality sleep each night.

Sleep Essentials From A-Zzz (Part II)

Creating sleep habits and routines to help achieve a quality night’s sleep is vital to your well-being. With these simple tips and facts, you can be on your way to feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the world!

K- Keep a bedtime routine; that way, your body can naturally adjust and create a stable internal routine.

L- Lighting can prevent the release of natural melatonin levels, which in turn can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep.

M- Melatonin is a hormone that is part of the human wake-sleep cycles. The body produces it in the Pineal Gland located in the brain. If sleep-depreviation sets in, melatonin can be purchased as a dietary supplement to increase levels to invite sleep.

N- Napping can improve productivity and recharge your brain. Just a few minutes of rest can significantly provide your body with the energy and brain-power so many of us turn to energy drinks for.

O- Over-sleeping can do more harm than good to the body. Studies have found that getting too much shut-eye can leave your body in a groggy state, and can have similar effects to not getting enough rest.

P- Pillows were designed to keep your spine straight and your head in an elevated, neutral position.

Q- Quality sleep can be achieved through changing behavioral habits and creating a healthier lifestyle through fitness and nutrition.

R- Replacing your mattress is crucial to your immune system. As years pass, your mattress doubles in weight from dead skin cells, dust mites and much more.

S- Sleep walking can pose great risks to you and others in your household, and can be linked to REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.

T- The temperature of your room can have a lot more to do with your quality of sleep than you think. During sleep, your brain sets a target-temperature, and if conditions fall too far below it can lead to restlessness.

U- Unforgiving nightmares are caused by an over-arrousal of the central nervous system. In adults, night terrors have been linked to increased stress levels.

V- Valerian is a natural, herbal sleep aide that has been used for centuries.

W- Wake up feeling rested and ready to face another productive day by making time for a quick AM workout. Your body will adjust to the early-morning routine and will naturally begin to prepare for activity before you even awake.

X- Cut out Xylitols and any other type of sugary, caffeinated substance before bed, as it stimulates and interrupts natural sleep patterns.

Y- Yawning stretches the jaw and increases blood flow in the neck, face and head. Cool air is breathed into the mouth and cools fluids, acting like a radiator, removing hot blood from the brain and introduces cool air.

Z- Zits and stubborn acne can take over your face due to lack of sleep. It causes your body to releases hormones that create proteins that cause inflammation of the skin. Sleep is the body’s repair time or lack-there-of.

So now that we have reached the end of our “A-Zzz”, hopefully these tips and facts have given you enough guidance to create better sleep habits, and you are able put your best foot forward daily.

 

Recharging Your Brain

You glance at the time just to find you are only half-way through your day and there are still workloads to be managed. As you take a deep breath and strategize your next move, whether it be to the coffee pot or the nearest vending machine, your eyes begin to feel heavy and your train of thought comes to a screeching halt. When these symptoms occur, the only thing you can think about is crawling under your desk and taking a snoozer. Well, it’s time to act on those thoughts, and take the steps necessary for your well-being and recharge those batteries.

Napping leaves you feeling mentally refreshed. It increases serotonin levels which puts you in a better mood and increases performance. For a boost of alertness, experts advise a 10-20 minute nap is suitable to restore brain activity and heighten procedural memory. For intellectual memory processing, a 60 minute nap may add even more value to your day. Of course this depends upon whether your employer allows you an extensive break, or if you have time in-between classes.

In this unyielding, fast-paced world, prioritizing your workload and personal life may seem asymmetrical at times. So, instead of brewing up another pot of joe, close your office door, dim the lights, and shut off the nagging voices in your head. Try holding a set of keys or a pen in your hand as you doze off, the prop will usually fall 15-20 minutes into your nap (before you enter a different phase of sleep) and wake you up. If you aren’t particularly fond of naps because you find that you wake up groggy, the next time you take a siesta, try sipping on a cup of coffee before hand. Caffeine usually takes 20 minutes to kick in, and won’t hurt such a short break and should lessen the effect of sleep inertia upon awakening.

Don’t feel guilty for taking a few minutes to recharge. Enjoy a “cat-nap” and reap the benefits of improved productivity, energy, creativity, and extended mental capacity that it provides.