How does a 20 minute nap benefits us? Come to think of this, you have just completed half of your work shift and took your lunch break. After a while, you are already set for the second half- suddenly, you experienced an overwhelming sleepiness. You asked yourself, what could go wrong? Well, what you are experiencing is called,
Dip in alertness/Post lunch dip
It is a feeling of overwhelming sleepiness that usually occurs during mid afternoon whether you have taken your lunch or not, between 1pm to 4pm. At this time, your body decreases its temperature adversely affecting alertness.
Understanding the causes
The shortage of energy in the afternoon may be attributed to poor sleeping habits, sleep disorder or health condition. There are also some medical conditions which may cause daytime fatigue and drowsiness like sleep apnea – which is attributed to excess weight and obesity, another is narcolepsy – a chronic disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness of a person and many other causes.
Aside from the causes mentioned, if you feel sleepy, there’s no need to worry because it is natural to experience this universal phenomenon called “dip in alertness or post lunch dip”. It is natural for humans to crave for sleeping about seven hours after they have awakened. Why is this so?
The Circadian Rhythm
You might notice that you tend to feel energized and drowsy around the same time, the Circadian Rhythm can best explain this.
The circadian rhythm is referred to as the “body clock”. It is a 24 hour internal clock running in the background of our brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. This is also known as “sleep-wake cycles”. When we feel like crawling on our desks and go to sleep, our body is in natural resting phase at this time. Adding the effect of foods and beverages, which may also induce drowsiness and an overpowering desire to sleep, may result.
Who may experience Dip in Alertness or Post lunch dip?
The effect may be natural, but “not everyone experiences it with equal intensity” according to Professor David Dinges, a Sleep Scientist at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Some may not feel the dip at all, while others who experienced it are “closet napper”. These are people who steal into empty rooms, their parked cars, or fell asleep at their desks because they can’t overcome the urge to close their eyes. Often, these people are ashamed of their behavior because it is associated with laziness, Dinges said.
How do we remedy Dip in Alertness or Post lunch Dip?
People take a nap for a reason. To some, is to catch up on lost sleep or in anticipation of a sleep loss to avoid feeling sleepy later on. Others do it, for enjoyment or to pass the time. But mostly, people take a daytime nap because they want to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost. Whatever the reasons are, taking a 20 minute power nap will give us incredible benefits.
A power nap is a sleep session that happens during the day from 1pm to 4pm lasting between 10-30 minutes. Any longer than that will make you experience “sleep inertia”- the unpleasant groggy feeling that will take time to shake off.
Ideally, the 10-20 minute nap will provide a great boost of alertness while mitigating the onset of sleep inertia. Daytime naps can be one way to treat sleep deprivation according to Sarah C. Mednick, Ph D, Sleep Expert and author of “Take a Nap! Change your Life”.
“You can get incredible benefits from a 15-20 minutes napping” she says, you reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performances.
BENEFITS OF POWER NAPPING
Power naps compensate our sleep deficit in general. The 20 minute napping does more just giving us a quick energy boost; it is also good for alertness and motor learning skills like typing and playing the piano. A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) study in 1995 found that napping improved their pilot performance and alertness. A study in Japan also revealed that a 20 minute nap decreased the participant’s sleepiness and improved their performance.
Other Health benefits of napping;
-Can help manage blood pressure. Daytime sleeps accelerate cardiovascular recovery after bouts of
Psychological stress, it literally lowers blood pressure.
-Improves our moods and feeling of sleepiness and fatigue.
-It is good for all ages including children who nowadays are napping less and less. According to a study by Rebecca Spencer, daytime sleep is critical for effective learning in children.
Here are some quick tips from Dr. Mednick on how to get the most out of power naps;
- Be consistent, keep a regular nap schedule .The napping time should be in the mid of the day between 1pm to 4pm. Napping beyond the said time will disrupt your night sleep unless you intend to stay late at night.
- The napping time should be quick or in short duration. Napping for 30 minutes or less is good and sufficient enough to give us a very quick energy boost, the alertness we need to last the whole afternoon. It also gives us serious cognitive and health advantages. Beyond that or napping for too long will push you into a deeper stage of sleep and waking up on this stage, you will experience sleep inertia which will leave you feeling groggy rather than rejuvenated and refreshed and another consequence of a prolong nap is that, it will surely interfere with your night sleep that will cost you another sleep deficit.
- Go Dark. Turning all lights off will make you fall asleep faster. In this way, you will not waste time trying to nap.
Daytime napping is not a practical option for everyone. However, if you can fit it to your schedule, like during a lunch break, take your time doing some power naps if you felt that an afternoon slump is setting in. It will surely boost your energy and add some kick to your alertness in the same way as getting wired by a coffee or other stimulant medication, only the natural way.
Let Us All Have A Good Nap!