Bad night’s sleep? Get Better Sleep. You’ll really want to read this on Power Naps.
If you find yourself lacking in energy and drifting off in the daytime, or you’re someone who often works (or parties) very late into the night, you could benefit from taking short power naps. Various Medical research shows that sleeping for a burst of no longer than 20 – 30 minutes can improve cognitive function, boost your body’s immune system and lower blood pressure, reducing risks of health problems like cardiovascular disease.
With this in mind, we spoke to ‘The Sleep Coach’/ eve Sleep’s award-winning good sleep ambassador, clinical hypnotherapist Max Kirsten, to glean his top 5 tips for the perfect power nap…
1. Darken your surroundings
Naps are best in a very dark room; if this isn’t possible for you, put on a sleep mask or use something like a t shirt to cover your eyes. Less light means your body produces more melatonin – which aids sleep.
2. Set your alarm
Set the amount of time that you want to nap for (no more than 20 – 30 minutes) on your mobile phone or alarm clock; sleeping for longer than this in the daytime will in fact have a negative effect making you feel drowsy. This is because after 30 minutes we start to enter a state of deep sleep, causing sleep inertia or grogginess which interferes with the desired positive effect a quick nap can create.
3. Cut out blue light
Sleep research has shown that blue light from smart phones, tablets, and computer screens reduces the production of the sleep hormone melatonin that is produced in the pineal gland in your brain. Blue light through the optic nerve tells your brain that it is still daytime. Either switch off all devices a few hours before you want to sleep, or perhaps more conveniently, use Apple’s ‘Night Shift’ filter, which can be switched on in the screen settings for iPhone and iPad. For users of Androids and other phones, ‘f.lux’ is an app that also reduces blue light from screens..
4. Get comfortable
Learn simple exercises to relax your body and empty your mind, making it easier for you to drift off peacefully. Try taking three deep slow breaths and after each one concentrate on relaxing your whole body and clearing the thoughts from your brain. To help this process, a good bed works wonders; Max Kirsten recommends eve mattresses.
5. Drink coffee
This one may seem surprising, but scientific research has suggested ‘Coffee Napping’ (drinking caffeine then napping immediately) is more effective than a regular mini-sleep. To understand how this seems to work, it’s important to know how caffeine affects the body. After being drunk, coffee is absorbed through the small intestine, passes into the bloodstream and crosses into your brain. There, it fits into receptors that are normally filled by a similarly shaped molecule called Adenosine. Adenosine is a byproduct of brain activity, and when it accumulates at high enough levels, it plugs into the receptors and makes us feel tired and groggy. However with caffeine blocking the receptors, adenosine cannot do so, hence why we feel more awake after a coffee or tea. Sleeping naturally clears adenosine from the brain, so if you drink caffeine before napping for 20 minutes straight away, you’ll reduce your levels of adenosine just in time for the caffeine to kick in. Because the caffeine has less adenosine to compete with, it will be more effective in making you alert when you wake up from your nap. Whoever said caffeine is the enemy of sleep might just be wrong…
(Note: Obviously if you don’t use caffeine regularly, this technique should probably to be avoided, or at least tried with caution, bearing in mind that caffeine effects can last up eight hours so could really interfere with sleep architecture later when you bed down for the night.)
The eve Nap Station is based in The Old Truman Brewery until Sunday 10th July; providing a comfortable, free-of-charge co-working space for Londoners.
Interview courtesy of http://www.redonline.co.uk