Cognitive Benefits of Naps

Naps are an excellent way to boost your brain’s optimal function. Studies are constantly being done on the mystery of the slumber and some findings show that the cognitive or “process of thought” benefits after napping are highly beneficial. Children experience nap time as infants, then as toddlers they begin school and take a nap break in the middle of the day. After napping, many facets of their physical and mental output are much more sharp and focused. Adults can benefit from naps just as much as children. It can help reduce stress, fatigue and improve productivity.

The Power Nap

After early childhood, napping is considered a luxury in most Western societies. Focusing on constant work and minimal sleep has turned into the norm for many people. Juggling work along with family, friends, hobbies, etc. means napping is low on the list of important things. However, some companies have instilled the power nap and have benefited greatly from this innovative approach to maximizing  workforce production. It has been shown that a midday nap of anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes increases reaction time, reduces stress and helps with overall patience.

Studies

Harvard University conducted a study with 100 volunteers. It consisted of administering a computer test that required the user to navigate through a maze. A five-hour break was imposed after the first test. When taking the test again, after the break, those who had stayed awake improved their time by an average of 26 seconds. However, those who had taken a 90-minute nap improved their time by 188 seconds. A substantial difference. In addition, those who dreamed about their test (four people out of 100 ) improved their score ten times more than the non-dreaming nappers. Therefore, the cognitive effects of napping not only substantially improved performance, but in a few cases, the brain actually mapped out production solutions while dreaming.

Time to Nap

The most effective nap time is said to be ten minutes. This seems to be the perfect time for the general population as it showed improvements across the board when it came to alertness, vigor and cognitive performance. The reason that this time is best is because some people fall into REM (rapid eye movement), which is indicative of deep sleep, after ten minutes and tend to wake up ornery and groggy. Therefore, the best way to nap and take advantage of the cognitive benefits is to find napping a spot where you will not be interrupted. Lock the door to your office, shut off your phone and either lie on the floor or rest your head on your desk. If you have a car nearby, curling up in the back seat works well. If you have an alarm on your cell phone, computer or mp3 player, set it for ten minutes and recharge.

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