We all have been in one of those situations where we have a ton of work to be done with a deadline of tomorrow (school exam or some report submission in office). Remember how you felt at that time. Like you have been in that mess for, say, forever trying to sort it out, still you have been unable to figure your way out, you have a long night ahead to sweat through but you’re at your wits’ end with your brain all weary. You really start missing your night sleep but unfortunately there is no time. So, you go for some distractions. But your brain still refuses to cooperate. Somehow amidst all this struggle, you doze off. Then you wake up startled, thinking you have slept for hours & regretting it. Now you are pretty sure that you have blown up the whole thing. But suddenly your eyes fall on the clock & it’s only been 10 minutes. Remember that moment of relief. You realize that you are totally refreshed, pumped up with energy, boosted with confidence & now all seems to be like a piece of cake. That’s the magic of a NAP.
It’s like the ‘QUICK FORMAT’ option you go for rather than the ‘COMPLETE FORMAT’ from the command prompt for erasing your pen drive when time is of essence. The only difference is that this is a REBOOT, not a FORMAT!!!
Actually, unlike most of the other species, our time is divided into sleep & wakefulness, so-called MONOPHASIC sleepers. But in this era of competition, we have become sleep deprived. So, napping becomes the need of the hour.
Nap is basically a light sleep of short duration. Three types of Nap have been described:
- Planned/Preparatory Napping: Intentional, when you know that you won’t be getting a proper night’s sleep.
- Emergency Napping: Sudden, when you are very tired & can’t continue with your activity.
- Habitual Napping: Regular, at a fixed time of day.
Based on duration, we have two types of Nap:
- Power Nap: 15 to 25 minutes, max. 40 minutes. You don’t enter in deep sleep. Main purpose is to rejuvenate yourself.
- Siesta Nap: 90 to 120 minutes. You go through full sleep cycle. Main purpose is to cut down the duration of your night time sleep. It is advised to restrict it under 4 hours as it may upset your circadian rhythm.
Nap has almost all the benefits of sleep like increased alertness, improved performance, enhanced memory, with an added advantage of absence of sleep inertia, i.e., the lethargy & disorientation you feel when you get up in the morning. So, you can straightaway resume your work after a nap. But for that you must be sure to restrict your nap-time to about 20 minutes. Also watch-out for those late evening naps, as they might interfere with your night time sleep. And see if you can resist sleep between 2.00 to 4.00 a.m. & 1.00 to 3.00 p.m. as sleep drive is strongest at that time, even more if you’re sleep deprived. Though in the latter case, I do agree that those long, boring lectures just after lunch are a much better sleep inducer!!!
Now you may think that Caffeine is a better option, as it kicks your system while you’re awake, saving you the time. But comparative studies conducted have declared NAP to be the clear WINNER. Though caffeine may increase alertness & attention, but it definitely does not help with memory. Whereas nap refreshes you at cellular level & helps improve memory, well at least some of its domains. Besides, you can never grow a tolerance to nap as you do to caffeine!!!
So, like me, if you have ever envied your computer for having the simplest solution to most of the serious problems – the RESTART button, then you can stop it. We are definitely the luckier ones for having the PERFECT version.