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The Art of the Power Nap — How to Recharge Your Brain in 20 Minutes

Have you ever been in the middle of work, school, or a simple, everyday task, and suddenly you’re hit by a wall of fatigue? You can't focus, you’re losing motivation, and you feel like you’re slowly melting into the ground. If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then you’re one of the lucky ones. I personally have been there one too many times, and over the past two years of college I’ve found the perfect solution. The Power Nap—it's like a quick recharge for your brain. With the right tools, you’ll not only learn the art of the power nap, but also how to perfect its use in your day to day life.


WHY TAKE A POWER NAP?


Most everyone loves to sleep, and luckily it doesn’t always have to wait until bedtime. Did you know that short naps boost productivity, improve memory, and reduce stress? Some of the greatest scholars and artists recognized the power a short nap could hold—Leonardo Da Vinci used to take a 20 minute nap every four hours and then return to his work. Albert Einstein used to supplement his usual 10 hours of sleep with three short naps every day.


WHAT IS A POWER NAP?


It’s simple. A power nap is a short period of sleep where the body and mind reach just the first (slowly drowsing off) and the second (decline of brain activity and muscle relaxation) stages of sleep, but not the third and fourth stages where the body enters a deep sleep known as REM. This allows for the benefits of a full night’s sleep without the grogginess and mental fog that come with waking up from a full eight hours.


HOW DO I TAKE ONE?


When it comes to a power nap, it's all about the timing. Experts say that 15-20 minutes is perfect, any longer and you begin to drift into too deep of a sleep. To start, find a comfortable and quiet place to rest—something like a cozy chair, a couch, or a hammock, but try to avoid your bed (you’ll be tempted to sleep too long). Once you’ve found it, try and relax your mind, this shouldn't be too hard if you’re already tired. Try listening to music through headphones or dimming the lights in the room. Always remember to set an alarm that gives you no more than 30 minutes to sleep. Once you wake up, you need to make sure that you don’t let yourself drift back off to sleep—remember, the effects only work if only the first two stages of sleep are reached. A great way to do this is to get up and go outside. Sunlight has a natural effect on the mind. Our circadian rhythms are wired to naturally wake up the body when exposed to light and begin the sleep cycle when exposed to dark. Once you’re up, resume the task that you were working on and enjoy the benefits of increased energy and focus!


The Power Nap is a simple and easy solution to the everyday problem of fatigue. Either incorporate a power nap into your regular routine or use it as a pick-me-up when needed. As a junior in college, the power nap has been my saving grace and key to productivity—if you’re lacking the energy to get through the day, a quick snooze can be your secret to success, too.


Spencer W. is an Ignite Tutor. You can learn more about Spencer via his bio on our site

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