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Catching Daytime Z's: Benefits of Napping

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

With fast paced lived and hectic schedules it hard not to wonder if the kindergartners and college students have it right: who's to say it's not a smart idea to take a break in the middle of the day for a quick nap. Contrary to popular belief, naps are not simply a lazy day treat. Studies have shown that even the most hectic schedule can benefit from a brief or power nap here or there during the day, and can even enforce a more productive work day.

A nap during the day can lead to increased creativity. Research shows that human minds are at their most creative after a good night's sleep. A power nap allows the mind to refresh and reconnect loose associations enough to recreate a morning's creative force. Stepping away from writer's block or a plateaued project for a power nap may be just what you need to break the cycle and invigorate your artistic process.

A nap also revitalizes the cognitive process, allowing increased memory and learning skills in the afternoon. After a long morning's worth of learning or continual cognitive processing, neurons and receptors in the mind become sluggish and can cripple an afternoon's productivity; not allowing an additional input of knowledge or memory. A power nap, of only 15-30 minutes, is all that's necessary for complete neuron recuperation.

A power nap also effectively wards off stress and, in turn, helps ward off heart disease. The regular stresses from a typical work day can add up and ultimate effect not only your work quality, but also your health quality, particularly your heart health. Researchers say that incorporating a power nap into your day at least three days a week can considerably cut down on your risk of heart disease related to work-induced stress. A nap mid day allows you to finish out your work day refreshed, renewed, and more focuses, as though you were starting a new work day, effectively eliminating work-day stress caused by long working hours.

Now you may ask what actually constitutes a nap. There are multiple time frames constituting as a nap:

-The micro-nap: 2 to 5 minutes. Shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness.

-The mini-nap: 5 to 20 minutes. Increases alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance.

-The power nap: 20 minutes. Includes the benefits of the micro and the mini, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of useless built-up information, which helps with long-term memory (remembering facts, events, and names).

-The long lazy nap: 50 to 90 minutes. Includes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormone, great for repairing bones and muscles.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Catching Daytime Z's: Benefits of Napping

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