There was a time when daytime was when you carried out the day’s activties, while nighttime allowed for the darkness needed to fall asleep in peace. Your body naturally attuned to the cycle and trained itself to go to sleep in the peaceful stillness of the night.
Then came artificial light, and suddenly every household was lit up at night just as much as in the morning. No longer could your body naturally sense the change in the day/night cycle and use it as a signal to fall asleep. Now you had to remind yourself of when it was bedtime, drag yourself to bed, switch off the lights and wait for your brain to slow itself down after the day’s activities enough to facilitate sleep.
Or Spend the Night Wondering if the Tap is Leaking
Jump to 2017, and we’ve all got smartphones next to our pillow just waiting to wake us up with an urgent notification about the latest superhero trailer that just dropped. You watch the trailer, and then spend the next two-three hours discussing it on forums and letting your online friends know what your thoughts about it are.
The result of all this nocturnal activity is that the modern world is facing a sleeplessness epidemic. Everyone from adults to children suffer from a serious lack of sleep. Forget the daily eight hours between the sheets recommended by science, most people are hard put to spare five hours from their schedule to devote to sleeping.
Not Because of Too Much Work. They’re Playing Candy Crush.
This isn’t a minor problem. A human being needs sleep just as much as water and food. Go a few days without sleep and you become a walking zombie, unable to concentrate on tasks or remember simple things. Suffer from chronic sleep deprivation and you expose yourself to all kinds of medical complications, from diabetes to cancer. Go more than two weeks without sleep, and you might die.
It’s unlikely that we will learn to ignore social media while in bed anytime soon. So how do you get your daily sleep fix so you can operate at 100% capacity during the day?
One technique practiced by many is called Power Napping. These are short naps that can extend between 15 minutes to half an hour several times a day. The theory is that taking multiple naps throughout the day makes up for the sleep you’re losing at night, allowing you to function at full capacity during waking hours.
So You Can Finally Fix That Stupid Tap
So how effective are Power Naps? Quite effective, it turns out. Daytime naps can make up for sleep loss at night, and in doing so boost our brain’s functioning significantly. Test subjects who’ve taken part in sleep experiments report better problem-solving skills, sharper memory, improved learning ability and a general feeling of being refreshed after taking a nap. Biological functions such as blood pressure, stress levels, and even weight management have been proven to be positively affected by power naps.
It’s been found that such naps if extended beyond 30 minutes, wind up making the subject feel groggy and tired. Also, if you take naps after 4 in the afternoon, it can negatively affect your ability to fall asleep at night.
Also the Sleeping Ability of Your Partner
So does this mean you can start taking power naps in the morning and partake in Netflix binge-watching orgies all night from now on? Not quite. Power naps can be a good way to catch up on sleep after pulling an all-nighter, but making them a habit can lead to a separate set of complications. Society has evolved into a day-for-work-night-for-sleep pattern for the majority of individuals. You can’t be certain you’ll be presented with the conditions required for daily naps while the world is bustling about around you, leading to a new and still-erratic sleeping pattern.
8 hours of sleep are not just for completing your REM sleep cycle, but also a means to forget the trials and tribulations of the day and drift off into the soothing world of dreams. Such kind of relaxation is simply not possible if you subsist solely on power napping.
At the end of the day, the best strategy would be to have the best of both worlds. Make an effort to get your 7-8 hours of sleep at night, but also try to find the time for a short nap in the middle of the day. A good night’s sleep will take care of your REM cycle, while the nap will leave you feeling refreshed and energized to deal with the rest of the day. If falling asleep in the middle of the day proves too difficult, simply close your eyes and allow your mind to drift off into a meditative state for 15-30 minutes. This simple exercise can itself go a long way towards helping you regain your focus and energy.