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The Science & Power Behind Naps


According to a growing body of research, napping is a smart thing to do. It can help refresh the mind, make you more creative, boost your intelligence, and even help you live a longer, healthier life. It's slowly gaining acceptance as part of a healthy lifestyle, even in some corporate offices.

Taking a nap, we've seen time and again, is like rebooting your brain. But napping may be as much of an art as it is a science. Let us offer recommendations for planning your perfect nap, including how long to nap and when.

For a quick boost of alertness. Experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap is adequate for getting back to work in a pinch.The sleep experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap gives you the best "bang for your buck," but depending on what you want the nap to do for you, other durations might be ideal. 

For cognitive memory processing. However, a 60-minute nap may do more good, Dr. Mednick said. Including slow-wave sleep helps with remembering facts, places and faces. The downside: some grogginess upon waking.

For a full cycle of sleep. The 90-minute nap aids creativity and emotional and procedural memory, such as learning how to ride a bike. Waking up after REM sleep usually means a minimal amount of sleep inertia, Dr. Mednick said.P

Sit slightly upright during your nap. Because it will help you avoid a deep sleep. And if you find yourself dreaming during your power naps, it may be a sign you're sleep deprived. 

This article was originally posted by Melanie Pinola for LifeHacker. We shared it with you because we want you to get adequate sleep at the right times so it can help protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life.

Tips for Getting Your Best Sleep

Think of your daily activities. Which activity is so important you should devote one-third of your time to doing it? Probably the first things that come to mind are working, spending time with your family, or doing leisure activities. But there’s something else you should be doing about one-third of your time—sleeping.


Although sleep needs vary from person to person, the average adult (including the elderly) require 7-9 Hours of sleep nightly. Many people view sleep as merely this as “down time” when their brains shut off and their bodies rest. So..People may cut back on sleep, think­ing it won’t be a problem, because other responsibilities seem much more important.


While you sleep, your brain is hard at work forming the pathways necessary for learning and creating memories and new insights. New research shows that a recently discovered mechanism that removes waste products from the brain is mainly active during sleep. This revelation could transform scientific understanding of what sleep is for, and shows that a number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help people stay healthy and function at their best.


You are probably aware of the health risks of not getting enough exercise or eating a nutritious diet, but what about the risks of not getting enough sleep? Sleep deprivation can be a result of a medical condition, psychological condition, or even from another person and the effects on your overall health can be pretty serious. Growing evidence shows that a chronic lack of sleep increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovas­cular disease, and infections. Without enough sleep, you can’t focus and pay attention or respond quickly. A lack of sleep may even cause mood problems.


Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

  • Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. As creatures of habit, people have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. Sleeping later on weekends won’t fully make up for a lack of sleep during the week and will make it harder to wake up early on Monday morning.
  • Exercise is great, but not too late in the day. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days but not later than 2–3 hours before your bedtime.
  • Wind down.  Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as a relaxing shower, reading, and avoid electronics before bed or in the middle of the night. Using an electronic device such as a laptop can make it hard to fall asleep, because the particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain.
  • Don’t lie in bed awake. If you find yourself still awake after staying in bed for more than 20 minutes or if you are starting to feel anxious or worried, get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.


Sources:
  • "Healthy Sleep Tips." Sleep Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2014.
  • "Sleep Helps 'detox' the Brain." Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2014.
  • "Your Guide to Healthy Sleep." NHLB Institute. National Heart, Lung, Blood, n.d. Web.