Why Nap & How to Nap

Why and how to nap

If you are like most adults, you probably envision the concept of a nap as being applied to babies, toddlers, and young children. The lack of a nap for these beings probably brings to your mind frightful images of explosive tantrums, deafening screams, spilled juice, and small wild little creatures terrorizing the general population.

But, in truth, it’s not only children that can benefit from the daily short snooze. Whether you’re feeling a bit tired, confused, stressed, or out-of-sorts and out of ideas, a nap could be just what you’re in need of. Everyone can use a good nap, because whether you are young or old, hyper or lazy, or busy or free—a nice little snooze can make a lot of things better. So, grab that pillow and set the alarm! It’s time to take a nap…

Naps have been proven to help with a great variety of sleep-related issues. A short nap can help relieve stress, fatigue, and sleepiness. It can also improve several things, such as:

Cognitive function—the way in which you realize and understand thoughts or ideas. A lack of cognitive function can make it harder for you to focus, cause your attention span to be shorter, your memory to fail you, and make it difficult to engage in spatial learning—visually learning or remembering things.

Hormone maintenance—improving homeostasis, the metabolism, health of the immune system, and sexual arousal, curbing hunger cravings and programmed cell death, and helping prepare the body for mating and several biological activities, such as puberty, menopause, the fight-or-flight response, and the stimulation of growth. In women, hormonal imbalances are often the cause of both mood swings and irritability, and a lack of sleep can exacerbate hormone maintenance issues, leading to these problems.

Memory, learning, and creativity—Short naps have been shown to increase brain activity in the right side of the brain—which is mostly concerned with memory and creativity, as well as seeing the big picture in a presented problem instead of seeing only one part of it. The right hemisphere of the brain has also shown itself to keep quite busy working with the left hemisphere as well, and also in cleaning house (memory consolidation) for the mind. This means that, during the sleep in a short nap, the right side of the brain works to codify memories, so memories are transferred from the short term memory to the long term memory—our brain does something like a memory back-up during a short nap.

Motivation and performance—Lack of sleep has been shown to cause more procrastination, greater negativity, and weaker self-judgment of ability (self-efficacy) in college students. In these cases, there is also more of an emphasis on performing rather than mastering—meaning that, when learning, a lack of sleep is more likely to cause one to simply try to get through instead of attempting to learn or memorize material and information. A nap, depending on its length and depth, can help lower an individual’s sleep deficit (debt of sleep) and help them perform better, particularly if these individuals often pull through many sleepless nights. Naps hold the power to increase our learning and memory abilities, and help motivate us for such things as exercising, eating healthier, mastering and recalling what we learn, and keeping ourselves alert and focused on the tasks at hand.


The Species of Naps

You might think a nap is a nap, simple as that. In actuality, there are different kinds of naps—named according to their duration, and, in effect, the benefits or detriments afforded by that specific nap.

Nano Nap: a 15-30 second nap. It’s usually the nap that no one really intends to have, and comes about as a result of boredom, lack of sleep, or the combination of exhaustion and stress—say, while staring holes into the back of a college teacher’s head or the computer screen. These naps have not been proven to provide one with any benefits as of yet.

Micro Nap: a 2 – 5 minute nap. This is sort of like a cat nap. It’s not long enough to make you feel extremely rested, but it does not give you time to get too groggy either. The micro nap is the best solution for when you are feeling sleepy or tired. It doesn’t tend to help improve with any brain or bodily functions, but it does get rid of the sleepiness of mind or body.

Mini Nap: the 5 – 20 minute nap. This is the nap where the real benefits come in. A mini nap is still just short enough to keep you clear of getting too groggy (from falling into a deep sleep), while providing you with extra alertness and focus, and improved learning abilities.

The Power Nap: A flat, 20-minute nap (but considered by some to be 20-45 minutes). This is the well-known nap that most people think of when contemplating naps. It has included benefits of all the naps above, but additionally, this is the nap that provides the individual with the important function of memory consolidation.

“Lazy Man’s Nap”: a lengthy 50 – 90 minute nap. The disadvantages to a nap of this length are the facts that sleeping so deeply will lead to grogginess upon waking, and that it takes a bit more time for the benefits of the nap to actually kick in. The benefits of this nap are muscle regeneration, bone reparation, better perceptual (visual) processing, and all the benefits of the naps above. But, regardless of which nap you take and the touted benefits to each, it really depends on you at the end of the day—or nap. Everyone has a different amount of needed sleep, and everyone’s body reacts differently to the environment they sleep in, how long they sleep for and what kind of sleep stage they reach. So, test around, find what works for you, and enjoy all the benefits that some good forty winks can give you.


How can Acupressure help you sleep ?

Sleep disturbance has many possible causes. Acupressure being a therapeutic art, it works wonders on worry, anxiety, headaches, common ailments, mood problems, depression, menopause symptoms, all of which being potential causes of your insomnia. By working directly on the root of the problem, using a renown therapeutic modality, you improve your sleep. Whatever other technique you use (herbs, relaxation, etc), working on the proper Acupressure points as well will greatly enhance the impact of your efforts.

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