The Real Power Behind a Nap

February 14, 2012

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For many years of my life, I have been taught that taking a nap during the day would cause negative effects on my ability to fall asleep later in the evening. However, I recently found an article on WebMD that counteracts this long time assumption and negative connotation that has been applied to the word “nap.” Many people, like myself, tend to feel their energy levels fall when two or three o’clock rolls around. Instead of reaching for that not so nutritious energy drink to send you from groggy to absolutely wired in a mere five minutes, Sara C. Mednick, a professor psychiatry at the University of California- San Diego, suggests taking a more natural route by taking a nap for anywhere between fifteen and ninety minutes.

In Jennifer Soong’s article, she outlines the multiple benefits associated with napping for different intervals of time. For instance, a quick cat nap of fifteen or twenty minutes can recharge your batteries by enhancing your alertness and motor skills like typing or playing the piano. If you decide you need a little longer rest, that’s totally okay too! Napping for thirty to sixty minutes has a dramatic effect on our memories and can help things such as memorizing vocabulary and remembering directions. Research also shows that a nap of ninety minutes helps making connections in the brain and solving creative problems.

As a stated before, our society has increasingly become dependent on energy drinks and coffee to help us complete our work and get through the day. As a college student myself, I’m surrounded by these drinks, however Mednick suggests choosing a nap over the caffeine as it has many more long term benefits. The caffeine and other ingredients in these drinks can make our bodies very jittery and in turn can reduce memory performance and cause us to make more mistakes. So next time you find yourself reaching for that caffeine packed drink, ask yourself if you have the time to just shut your eyes for a few minutes and relax. In the end, it might be the best decision you make all day.

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