When asked what my favorite hobbies are I might include hiking, drawing, running, and fishing; some fairly normal activities for a busy gal from Colorado. If you were to ask to me to be totally honest with what my hobbies are, I would most definitely include naps on that list.
Last semester when I was struggling with anxiety and depression, naps were the only place I could turn to feel a little bit better. Now that I’ve largely emerged from the dark place I was in then, I would tell you that I enjoy napping for much more than just to feel happier, they are a great way to give my body a break, they increase my energy, and they make me excited for the rest of they day. I am a firm believer that they are one of the best self-care tools.
I have been doing a little bit of research on the best ways to nap as well as well as what exactly they do for you and here is what I have found.
“People, for the most part, are not sleeping enough at night, and because of that they are entering their day at a deficit,” says Sarah Mednik, a psychologist and author of Take a Nap, Change Your Life“One of the ways that napping helps is that it allows you to catch up on some desperately needed sleep. But there’s also a large research body that shows even in well-rested adults, naps are very helpful for increasing cognition, particularly memory.”
An article by the Science of People lists four types of naps. The Power Nap, The Grogginess Nap, the Short-Term Nap, and the REM Nap.
The Power Nap is a nap that is 10-20 minutes long. It is the pick-me-up you need if you don’t have the time to grab an afternoon coffee. It can give you a little burst of energy and refocus you. One of my professors here at Gonzaga once told me that every afternoon he closes his office door and nods off for 15 minutes and is re-energized for the rest of the afternoon.
The Grogginess nap is a 30 minute nap that probably won’t help you very much. Most sleep experts agree that 30 minute naps aren’t great for you and leave you groggy because you are waking yourself up midway through a normal sleep cycle.
The Short Term nap is 60 minutes long and has benefits and downsides. Its benefits are that it allows you to store data you have collected throughout the day, improving your longterm memory. Downside is that it also wakes you up mid sleep-cycle and will most likely leave you a little groggy.
The REM nap is a 90 minute nap and allows you to cycle through an entire REM sleep. This nap will leave you with the most amount of benefits. It leaves you feeling reenergized, more creative, and emotionally stable. It also gives you time to store memory and ready to conquer your day!
We don’t all have time to sleep for 90 minutes midday, but if you do find yourself feeling a little burnt out on the weekends, a full REM cycle might be the best thing for you. In the end, listen to your body and don’t be afraid to slow down and give it some afternoon R&R.