In a normal 6-8 hour sleep cycle the brain may go through two processes known as REM and NREM. The body switches between these two types of sleep every 90 minutes in what is known as the sleep cycle. NREM (Non-rapid eye movement) is whereby brainwaves become progressively relaxed until one fall into the deepest form of relaxation: NREM stage 3 or slow wave sleep. Whilst in this cycle three main processes happen.
White blood cells are created to aid bodies protection muscles are restored and there is a release of the growth hormone. By taking a 20-30 minute nap one may fall in the first two of three stages in NREM sleep. During this period muscles remain active, while the eyes open and close moderately. Sleeping for any longer may put the body into the second stage where it may become much more challenging to wake up. Whilst entering the final NREM from 60 minutes onwards is when most stimuli from the environment far from generate reactions and one may be well on their way to needing a long, deep sleep with plenty of dreams.
After 90 minutes, enter the next sleep cycle; REM (Rapid eye movement). This sleep pattern comes in cycles throughout the night, with the experience of up to five REM cycles in a long sleep. The initial cycle occurs one and a half hour after the onset of sleep and may follow after another complete cycle of NREM sleep. During the REM process the brain may be more alert, it processes recent thoughts and memories and helps to form new skills. It is at this point that the majority of dreams are created and experiences.
Power naps may be the way to take advantage of sleep cycles, in a short and snappy 30 minutes memories might help to be processed and bodies muscle and white blood cells may reform. The first phase of NREM sleep cycle might help one to feel dozy and relaxed and if someone was to wake. The deeper one falls into stages two and three of the NREM cycle the more reluctant one may feel to wake up.
Jobs which contain a lot of mental stimuli may see improved benefits with the inclusion of power naps. Nasa sleep researchers have actively promoted the use of power naps in the training of astronauts. Piloting a challenging ship hurtles through space at tens of thousands of miles per hour is one of the most challenging in the world, in fact universe. The NASA study found a nap of 26 minutes may boost performance by 34 percent as it significantly increases working memory and the ability to focus attention on a particular task.
85% of all mammalian species sleep more than once a day, so including nap into a daily routine might be beneficial. The concept of ‘having a rest’ has been adopted by the Chinese as millions of the population may be found taking naps at any point in the day,some offices in China even have certain rooms installed with beds for their employees to take a nap. To enjoy a peaceful nap, a quiet, dark and environment one may be comfortable in is essential. Eye-shades, ear plugs and music players are all useful tools.
Scientists at Loughborough University found contrary to popular believe, consuming caffeine before a nap might help the effectiveness of sleep and the ability to wake up feeling fresh. In conjunction with a 20-30 minute nap it takes the same amount of time for a drink such as red bull or a strong coffee to have an effect on the brain. By drinking a caffeine rich drink before a power nap may leave one feeling perky and alert as one wakes up.
How might one be more productive if they are feeling more alert?