Although the Spanish seem to have known this for centuries, new scientific research shows that napping is one of the most beneficial activities you can do. The only major problem is that finding somewhere comfortable to sleep can be difficult. However, it is possible to solve this conundrum by taking your nap space with you in the form of a huge bean bag. And if a huge bean bag is too much, a smaller one will still suffice. Learn how to reduce stress in your work environment with a nap in a bean bag chair!
How Long Is Too Long?
Avid proponents of napping don’t argue very often about the subject when they are together, but when they do, the topic is usually how long of a nap should be taken. According to a new study, the most beneficial naps are those that range from 10 minutes to 20 minutes and those that last for more than 90 minutes.
During a nap that lasts from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, the brain only enters the first stage of sleep, which is known as non-REM sleep. People who stay in this zone do not fall into the heavier modes of sleep that require a full cycle to feel rested. A nap of 20 minutes or less allows you to wake refreshed, energetic and alert. However, a nap lasting 20 minutes to 90 minutes will usually leave you feeling tired and groggy because it does not allow you enough time to complete a full cycle of REM sleep.
The groggy feeling experienced by people taking mid-length naps is known as a sleep hangover or sleep inertia. When napping for about 30 minutes, the body will take 30 minutes to regain its full capacity after you are awake.
Many people, however, also have trouble with naps of 90 minutes or longer. These long laps may still leave you feeling tired, and they may disrupt your natural sleep cycles, keeping you awake late at night.
Naps Boost Brainpower
A study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that napping on bean bags and other comfortable furniture can dramatically increase a person’s brainpower, which includes the ability to think critically, learn and solve problems. This means that not only does napping restore and refresh the mind but also makes you smarter.
People who deprive themselves of sleep do not think as quickly as those who are well-rested. And students who stay up late cramming for tests remember 40 per cent fewer facts than those who receive a full night’s sleep. This occurs because when the brain is fatigued, certain parts shut down, leaving you in a state of waking sleep.
According to the lead investigator of the study, Mathew Walker, “Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but also, at a neurocognitive level, moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap.”
Studies in 2007 have established that fact-based memories are stored in the hippocampus before they move on to the long-term storage area of the brain: the prefrontal cortex. When you don’t receive enough sleep, the hippocampus acts as if it is full and rejects new information instead of storing it and sending it along its way. When you take a nap, the short-term memory center of the brain refreshes and allows new information to enter.
“It’s as though the email inbox in your hippocampus is full, and until you sleep and clear out those fact emails, you’re not going to receive any more mail,” said Walker. “It’s just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder.”
Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Naps
Napping on a huge bean bag provides several benefits, helping you to work and learn, but to get the most out of your naps, follow these simple tips:
- Don’t sleep too long. Sleeping too long will cause you to enter REM sleep, and it can disrupt your natural sleep cycle.
- Don’t take naps too late in the evening. Naps should not be taken within three hours of your regular bedtime. For most people, the best time to take a nap is between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
- Darken the room or wear a mask. Light can affect your ability to sleep and the quality of the sleep you get.
- Keep it quiet or wear earplugs. Loud environments and sudden noises can reduce the benefits of napping.
- Keep a regular schedule. Napping according to a schedule will help you fall asleep faster and standardize the benefits you receive.