“Sleep, how I hate those little slices of death.” Edgar Allen Poe.

There was a time when it was almost frowned upon if you announced you enjoyed a quick afternoon nap. The idea of taking time out of your day to sleep, was usually met with sideways looks from colleagues.

However, incredible research into why we nap, and the benefits of doing so, will make you think again.

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Benefits of napping

First of all, the good news is that napping has all kinds of benefits.

That little slice of sleep (not death!) helps boost your brain power, that means when we come to problem solve and engage our memory, our brain responds quicker and more effectively.

Naps also help our moods.

Lack of sleep has a host of ill effects, but an afternoon nap can really help when it comes to how we are feeling and how we are operating.

Put other research into the mix and it seems there are other health benefits – aiding us when it comes to stress, blood pressure and how are heart functions.

So what’s the best way to take a nap?

Start by finding somewhere you can comfortably, and safely, have a quick sleep.

If you are a little tired, you will find that sleep comes quite easily when you put your mind to it.

More important is the length of time you sleep

– 20 to 30 minute naps

It appears that 20 minutes is a great length of time to nap. So make sure you keep to that time frame to optimise your nap benefits.

If you sleep over 30 minutes, you run the risk of sleep inertia. That can leave you feeling worse than before the nap, and can take you a bit longer to recover from. 20 minutes is just long enough to leave you refreshed and give your brain a quick time out.

– 60 to 90 minute naps

If you do nap longer, you are as well going for a full 60 to 90 minute session. This is due to the way we sleep and the cycle that we go through as we sleep.

You may have heard of certain stages of sleep such as REM, so when we do drop off, if you go over-time, you will enter those patterns and it’s better to go through the whole regime than breaking off half way through.

Don’t worry about the long nap though, once again there are many advantages of a longer nap including memory benefits and creative boosts.

So now we know why napping is handy and how long we should do it, let’s think about when we should nap.

power naps_2When should we nap?

Ideally if you can grab a 20 minute nap between the hours of 1pm and 4pm, you should not have any problems with your nap affecting your normal sleep pattern.

If we nap any later, there’s a chance we might disturb our normal nightly sleep, so avoid napping late in the afternoon if you can.

Now I’m sure that many of you movers and shakers out there will still be worried about taking a whole 20 minutes out of your day to relax, well you can still get the benefits of a nap in as short a time as six minutes.

Power naps

These power naps can assist us with our long term memory, as well as helping us refocus on the tasks of the day.

The serious side of fatigue is the effect it can have on our mental health, so if your normal sleep pattern is in a state of flux, you may want to consider napping as a way of making sure you are getting enough sleep time.

Planning your afternoon nap is a great way of supplementing your sleep, the same time every day for an extra 20 minutes may be all you need to get you back on track.

If you ever feel tired but you know you still have work to do and places to go, it’s important that you take that 20 minutes to refresh yourself before continuing with your schedule.

Never drive tired and never operate machinery when fatigued – take that 20 minute brain break and make sure that you end your day tucked up safely in bed at home.

Connect with Expert Louie Fecou.

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