Boost your brain: take a nap!

If you’ve ever watched a puppy going about its business, you’ll notice that it runs around at top speed for what feels like hours, and the suddenly, it collapses in a heap and falls asleep wherever it happens to be. And if you’re running around like that as the end-of-year madness takes hold, you might be eyeing that puppy with a large dose of envy.

Here’s the good news – taking time out to sleep during the day is really good for you – it gives you a quick energy boost, and confers some great cognitive and health advantages.

A quick survey of your friends or colleagues will confirm what many of us feel – we just don’t get enough sleep. And one of the solutions is to take a power nap. Why? Because plenty of research shows they give our brains a boost, improving verbal memory, creative problem solving, object learning, perceptual learning, and statistical learning. They also help us with maths, logical reasoning, our reaction times, and symbol recognition. They improve our mood, energise us, and they’re also good for our heart, blood pressure, stress levels, and surprisingly, even weight management. What’s not to love?


But you have to be strategic about it – the length of time you sleep for is important. Here’s how to power nap the right way: make your sleep for 10 to 30 minutes only. If you sleep for longer, you’ll wake up feeling groggy and miserable – which is not the aim. Also try not to sleep after 4pm, as that can disrupt your normal nighttime sleeping.


So what, now what? When you feel fatigue setting in, find a secluded couch and take a short nap. Ten to 20 minutes is ideal, but 30 minutes is the upper limit. Set an alarm on your cell phone, silence your notifications, and get a quick boost whenever you need it.