Studies have shown that napping reduces stress hormones in the body. Also, other studies have shown that short, brief naps known as “power naps” lower your blood pressure.
However, being in a state of “stress” can reduce the quality or even the ability to take a nap. Moreover, stress causes hyperarousal, which upsets the balance between sleep and wakefulness.
Therefore, to deal with these negative effects of stress, during a “power nap” the person:
- Needs to be completely quiet
- Should be in a dark quiet place
- Should be comfortable
- Should have no distractions
- Needs to focus on breathing and relaxing
Most noteworthy, during a “power nap” you pass through different stages of sleep, known together as a sleep cycle. Moreover, these stages include:
- Light sleep
- Deep sleep (during which the body repairs itself)
- Rapid-Eye Movement (REM) sleep (during which the mind is repaired)
Above all, sleep experts recommend keeping the “power nap” between 15 to 30 minutes long. Because sleeping longer gets you into deeper stages of sleep, it becomes difficult to wake up from the nap. Also, longer naps can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, especially if you have been sleeping a lot.
However, research has shown that a one hour nap has many more restorative effects than a 30 minute nap. Once such restorative effect is a much greater improvement in cognitive functioning. Furthermore, the key to taking a longer nap is to get a sense of how long your sleep cycles are. And once you get that sense, try to awaken at the end of a sleep cycle.
As there are pros and cons with the length of a “power nap”, you can let your schedule decide sleep length. So, if you only have 15 minutes, use those 15 minutes. But if you could work in an hour nap, you may do well to complete a whole sleep cycle, even if it means less sleep at night. On the other hand, if you only have 5 minutes, just close your eyes. Because, even a brief rest reduces stress and helps you relax. As a result, you have more energy to complete the day’s remaining tasks.
Other popular methods to get relief from stress are illustrated in the infographic.