What Is A Power Nap And Does It Actually Work?

Napping is one of the best ways to rejuvenate your body and mind. It can also help if you've had a poor night of sleep. But are all naps created equal? According to health experts, there are better ways to nap than others. And power napping might be one of them. According to Cleveland Clinic, a power nap isn't a medical term, but it's often used to describe a shorter nap ranging from 20 to 30 minutes.

As it turns out, the way we feel after napping has a lot to do with our natural sleep rhythms. For instance, one full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. If we take shorter naps, we avoid entering into a full sleep cycle, which can impact how we'll feel upon waking, including whether or not we experience that dreaded groggy feeling. Thus, power naps can give you that little extra boost and may even provide additional health benefits as well. 

The benefits of power napping

Taking a 20-minute power nap is associated with improved alertness, mood, short-term memory, focus, and concentration, according to Cleveland Clinic. Interestingly, power naps can be beneficial regardless of the amount or quality of sleep you got the night before. Thus, even if you're well-rested, a short nap may still be beneficial. And if you think your nap has to extend to the 20-minute mark to experience the beneficial effects, think again. A 2008 study published in The Journal of Sleep Research found that study participants who slept a mere six minutes benefited from enhanced memory processing.

According to Sleep Foundation, shorter naps are effective because they allow us to feel refreshed without sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is a term used to describe grogginess and lethargy after waking up from a nap, which experts say can last up to an hour. It is much more common in naps lasting longer than 30 minutes. Ways to ensure the best nap possible include setting an alarm, avoiding naps late in the day, using relaxation techniques to help you drift off, and ensuring you have a sleep-friendly environment.