Power Naps Are Better Than Coffee

My secret is out…

A few months ago, I was interviewed by Jen Soong, who was writing an article for WebMD magazine. I confessed my secret for staying healthy and sane when my long days catch up with me.

What’s my secret?

It’s all here in the article: The Secret (and Surprising) Power of Naps

I discovered this secret when my children were babies. I used to take naps when they did. It was the best way for a 38 year old mom (42 when the second boy was born)  to survive having a baby in the house.

How Long Should You Nap?

I usually nap for about 25 minutes. And I set a timer to make sure I don’t oversleep. For me, sleeping too long means waking up groggy and less able to function.

Sleep researchers have discovered that how long you nap determines which mental functions are enhanced. In fact, it is all described in a book by Sara C. Mednick, PhD titled Take a Nap! Change Your Life.

Short naps of about 20 minutes are good for metal alertness. Longer naps benefit creativity and problem solving.

Naps may also be good for your heart. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens (Greece) Medical School followed 23,600 men and women living in Greece for an average of 6.3 years.

The results showed that people who regularly took siestas, defined by the researchers as napping at least three times per week for an average of at least 30 minutes, had a 37% lower coronary mortality than those not taking siestas. Occasional nappers showed a statistically non-significant 12% reduction in coronary mortality. The apparent protective effect of siestas was particularly strong among working men and weaker among those not working, mainly retirees. Among working women, there were too few deaths to allow inferences.

The researchers believe that regular naps reduce stress which results in fewer instances of coronary mortality.

When Should You Nap?

Are you a “morning person” (sometimes called a lark) or a night owl? The ideal time to take your nap depends on your body’s normal rhythm. I’m a lark in a family of night owls. At 10 p.m., my eyelids are getting heavy. I am ready to get to sleep. But, my husband and sons are just getting rolling on work.

Here is an easy, one-page description of how to pick your most beneficial time to nap and other helpful tips from The Boston Globe.

As the old saying goes, “Try it, you’ll like it!”

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