Why Power Napping Can Reduce Stress

Everyone knows that after a good night’s rest you feel wide awake and full of spark.  Concentration is easy and your mind works efficiently.   And the reverse it true too.  When you do not have enough sleep, your body becomes inefficient and your mind lethargic.  In fact not getting enough sleep raises the body’s stress hormones and is one of the most common forms of stress. 

Yet it should be so easy to avoid.  But sometimes getting enough sleep is hard to do.  Maybe your mind is racing and you cannot switch off long enough to drift off to sleep?  Or maybe the pain from entrenched muscle tension is too great to let you sleep soundly?  Whatever the reason, if you are having difficulty getting a solid night’s rest, why not try power napping during the day? 

There is a lot of evidence supporting the theory that the human brain naturally craves sleep around 2pm.  Taking a nap of around shortly after lunch is known to improve mental acuity.   But did y0u know that power naps also reduce high blood pressure and reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes?

Research done at the University of California followed the memory and learning progress of 39 adults, only half of whom were allowed to have a 90 minute afternoon nap two hours after being given a learning task.  When tested at 6pm, the group who had had the power nap performed statistically better on the recall task compared with the control group who had stayed awake throughout.

The reason is that during sleep, the mind processes and stores information for easy retrieval later.  In essence taking a power nap in the early afternoon helps clear your mental in-tray, much like an efficient librarian sorts and files book cards.  This process also clears the mind frees up mental space, allowing the mind to take on more tasks, be it remaining vigilant and on the look out for danger, research or solving the next level up on your favourite computer game! 

Sleep also allows the body’s stress hormones levels to fall back naturally to a more normal level, aiding relaxation and promoting cellular repair. An early afternoon nap makes learning and remembering easier, so it can also reduce the stress of forgetting often associated with old age.

Napping during the day has proven physiological and psychological benefits, so if you are suffering with insomnia or so stressed you cannot sleep soundly at night, work with your body.  Try taking a nap after lunch.  You will feel recharged, refreshed and less stressed for doing so.

Stress Relief – You Need To Sleep on it

Today’s modern world is a high stress environment.  With world news coming at you 24/7, it can be difficult to switch off and relax.  But that is exactly what you must do if you are ever going to reduce your stress levels.

High stress levels lead to difficulty sleeping.  And a lack of sufficient quality sleep causes an increase in the body’s stress levels.  In fact experts believe that around 8 hours quality sleep every night is necessary for adults to function properly.  Anything less than that can lead to chronic stress, and worse.  Stress is thought to be a significant factor in over 60 different medical conditions, including stroke, panic attacks and heart disease.

Sleep allows the body to rest, relax and unwind.  It allows the necessary escape from the body’s stress “fight or flight” response.  It is so important that the body interprets insufficient sleep as extremely stressful.  And if you are stressed, you get fitful, restless sleep.  So if you are not getting enough sleep, you become more and more stressed and when you are stressed you get less quality sleep.  It is a downward spiral! 

Here are five things you can do tonight to help ensure you get a restful night’s sleep:

1.    Read more

Reading is a great way to relax as it makes you slow down the pace of your life, takes your mind off every day things and allows your breathing to deepen.  All of which allows you to release pent up stress and puts you in the right frame of mind to drift gently off to sleep.  And if you are anything like me, you have a stack of books you have always wanted to “read someday”.  Start tonight.  Just think of all those books you’ll get through!

2.    Enjoy A Good Soak In The Bath

At bedtime, nothing beats a relaxing bath for letting the worries of the day float away.  A hot bath raises your core temperature so that when you get out, your core temperature gradually falls again.  And as it falls, you naturally begin to feel drowsy.  So not long after your hot bath, you feel sleepy.  Bliss!

3.    Get Rid Of the T.V

Many people watch TV in their bedrooms these days; and may even fall asleep whilst watching it.  This means their minds never enter a sufficiently stress free and relaxed state for restful sleep.  Take the TV out of the bedroom.  You will find that you are more ready for sleep when you actually do go to bed; you will fall asleep faster and will get more restful sleep as a result. 

4.    Reserve the Bedroom for Sleep and Sex

If you want to sleep better and reduce your stress levels, keep the bedroom space for sleep and sex only.  You will start to feel calmer and more relaxed whenever you enter the bedroom if you do.  Restful sleep will be inevitable.

5.    Stick To A Bedtime

Developing a restful sleeping routine will lower your stress levels and help you sleep more naturally.  Experts believe you need an optimal 8 hours sleep.  So if you need to be up at 7am, then you need to be asleep at 11pm.  This may mean going to bed at 10:30pm.  Stick to your bedtime and rise time every day.  Your body will respond by getting back into a regular sleep pattern, and you will have more restful sleep.

These tips will help significantly reduce your stress levels and will also help you get more sleep.  Give them a go.  You’ll be amazed at the results!