Experimenting with Powernaps

I’ve been dealing with a lot of exhaustion lately and have been experimenting with 10 and 20 minute power naps to try to counter the problem. I’m finding them to be very helpful. Longer naps would be ideal, but I don’t have time. A 10-minute nap is faster than finding a cup of coffee and drinking it.

How Long to Nap For?

The first things that I had read about power naps said that 20-minute naps were ideal, but then I read this post:

Measurements and Results:The 5-minute nap produced few benefits in comparison with the no-nap control. The 10-minute nap produced immediate improvements in all outcome measures (including sleep latency, subjective sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance), with some of these benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes. The 20- minute nap was associated with improvements emerging 35 minutes after napping and lasting up to 125 minutes after napping. The 30-minute nap produced a period of impaired alertness and performance immediately after napping, indicative of sleep inertia, followed by improvements lasting up to 155 minutes after the nap.

Another study showed benefits of 90-minute naps:

At 2 p.m., the nap group took a 90-minute siesta while the no-nap group stayed awake. Later that day, at 6 p.m., participants performed a new round of learning exercises. Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn.

These findings reinforce the researchers’ hypothesis that sleep is needed to clear the brain’s short-term memory storage and make room for new information…

Here is a chart that recommends limiting naps to no more than 45-minutes. There are also various opinions on Wikipedia.

I think it depends on what one’s goals are for the nap. If I’m at work and can’t function, I think a 10- or 20-minute nap really helps. If I’m not working that day, then I don’t mind sleeping for longer, especially if I’m feeling like I’m about to get sick or just need to catch up on lost sleep.

How I Powernap

I set my alarm for five minutes longer than I want to sleep. For example, if I am taking a 20-minute nap, I set my alarm for 25 minutes. If I take a 10-minute nap, I set my alarm for 15 minutes.

At the moment, my room overlooks a noisy train station. Sometimes the sound and vibration from riding in a car puts people to sleep. I just imagine that the train noise is from a car and it’s putting me to sleep. I focus on an imaginary point in front of me and relax. That usually puts me to sleep quickly.

I’d like to write more about sleep and memory, but will save that for another blog post

Do you powernap? Do you find it helpful? How do you do it?

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6 comments

  • What I find best is let my body and brain simply make the call what they need to do “reboot” me
    Think: Homeostasis
    Being a Libertarian at heart, I go with the flow of my day, letting things both within and without self-regulate
    At times, my Power Nap is so brief I do NOT realize for a time I have rebooted, i.e., taken a Power Nap, while other times I go in for an hour
    The key is the Zen of what “you” need throughout the day for max Homeostasis

  • Maybe I will try that method on a weekend. Sometimes if I nap without the alarm, I’ll be asleep for 3 or 4 hours and then can’t sleep at night. I just tried a 45 minute nap today and that worked well. I’m still tired, but now functioning much better than before the nap.

  • I have tried to nap but cannot do it. I am a sleep specialist.

  • I’ve had serious sleeping problems for years. I found that focusing on an imaginary point in front of me does the trick. If the mind wanders, bring it back to that point. It’s about an arm’s length in front of my face.

    I got the idea from an article I read that I think was about flow. If I recall correctly, athletes could achieve that state by focusing on the point in front of them. I’ll try to find the article. All I remember from the article was the idea of focusing on the imaginary point. It had nothing to do with sleep, but I tried it anyway.

  • I’ve tried taking a nap many times and I think it could be a massive help for me, since I have a nasty habit of waking before the alarm goes off (and it goes off 5 am on workdays) and I even wake early on my days off, so I’m constantly tired, stressed, mind wanders and I keep forgetting things. Or is it that I can’t sleep because I stress about things, I can’t tell. Either way, if nap allows to shave off an hour from my sleep time, all the better.

    The only problem for me is getting to sleep, 15-20 minutes seems an awfully short time for this. I guess I should work on my flow.

    Anyway, to contribute something meaningful, as we all probably know, the 8 hour sleep rhythm is not the natural sleep pattern for us. I read about a study, where a group of people slept 4 hours, woke up for a couple of hours and then slept again four hours and reported that they had never felt so rested in their life. I guess that could be a thing worth trying some day. I’ve been meaning to try that for some while, but lazy me, too lazy to even try sleeping. 🙂

  • I’m the powernap QUEEN… and I’m the only nurse on my job that takes naps LOL I take 10-15-20-30 naps 1hr naps for when I have a day off and need serious recovery. Very rarely do I take longer naps. Sometimes when I’m profoundly exhausted a nap can make me acutely aware of how overworked I am. I just know from starting my memory improvement journey that exhaustion/lack of sleep is a memory killer. My memory isn’t sticky. I take breaks from reading to nap. NAPS ARE AWESOME.

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