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Get Your Nap On: Why It's Important

By Genevieve Smith

We live in a culture where the expectation is to go, go, go. You need a rest? Maybe you’re lacking stamina. This approach not only leads to burnout, but it can also lead to major mistakes. There are documented benefits of napping, from the power nap to a longer sleep cycle. So let’s take a page from the Spaniards’ playbook and look into why we may need a siesta.

Napping Cycles

The power nap - Log in 10 to 20 minutes for a usable boost in alertness. This is great for professionals at work, to keep you sharp and emotionally-balanced in your decision-making for the rest of the day.

Something restorative - Although 30 minutes on the couch can seem attractive, be forewarned this time span interrupts a shift into deep sleep. Take to the half-hour if you’re at home and won’t be perturbed by the initial grogginess experienced upon waking. Ultimately, this nap offers restorative benefits after the fog clears.

A memory booster - Have a presentation later in the day? Going to a conference and plan on meeting new people? Take a 60-minute nap, and have a cup of coffee or a glass of water when you wake up. The full hour of napping enters the body into deep sleep, and is documented for improving recall of facts, faces and names. That said, it ultimately interrupts a sleep cycle, so initial grogginess will ensue.

The full cycle - A full 90 minutes is fantastic, when you have the luxury. Make time for it when work and leisure allow. This is a completed REM cycle, meaning the body moves from light to deep and back into light sleep, leaving you feeling refreshed upon awakening. This cycle allows for dreaming, and the mind to fully process various items. Your ability to execute complex tasks is improved post-nap, with a boost in creativity, as well as emotional and procedural memory. Take this nap in anticipation of a brainstorming session or intricate physical tasks involving coordination.

Nap time is a thing in preschool. And then it disappears. Why is this? I vote to bring back the naps. Several major U.S. companies have caught onto the benefits of naps; you’ll find them encouraged in the workplaces of Google, AOL-Huffington Post, Ben & Jerry’s, and Nike, among others. Naps allow the mind to process new information and solidify recent memories. Strive to nap at the same time each day, block out the light to fall asleep faster, and bring something warm for your body to adjust to the temperature dips of sleep. I wish you happy siestas while you nap it off.  

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Wheaton, Ill.

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