British Prime Minister David Cameron has confessed to taking them, while leading global companies are even encouraging their staff to take them. The power nap is no longer associated with the elderly only.
Studies suggest that many people experience significant drops in energy and concentration levels approximately eight hours after waking up from regular sleep.
This drop typically occurs during late afternoon business hours, so there is often a loss of productivity as well.
Workers may experience a loss of mental focus, visual acuity or physical stamina. To counteract these effects, a number of people take a short sleep break known as a power nap.
Many companies now provide sleep pods for their employees. Proctor & Gamble and Google have installed EnergyPods, specifically designed for napping in the workplace.
A power nap provides many of the same recuperative benefits of regular sleep, but in far less time. Many sleep experts suggest an effective power nap should only last 20-30 minutes.
During the first and second stages of a normal sleep cycle, the body’s muscles have an opportunity to relax while the person’s mental state is refreshed.
On average, most people reach the end of the second stage of sleep within an hour or less. Setting an alarm for that amount of time should prevent a power napper from entering deeper stages of sleep.
Taking a power nap involves finding a distraction-free area and setting an alarm for at least 20 minutes, but no more than one hour.
Many workers take power naps during their lunch breaks, or during extended downtime in their offices.
The goal is to reach a state of mental and physical relaxation with the assurance that an alarm will not allow the napper to fall completely asleep. Ideally, a power napper should come out of the nap feeling mentally refreshed.
A power nap can also help drivers on long trips. In order to avoid driver fatigue, a driver should pull over to a designated rest area periodically and take a short nap before resuming the trip.
Some driving experts suggest taking a legal caffeine pill or caffeine-laden beverage just before taking a power nap. The caffeine will not have time to take effect during the nap, but it will start to work just as the driver goes back on the road.
Many companies around the world now recognise the benefits of a power nap, and they often encourage employees to take one at some point during working hours.
Taking a short power nap during the day should not have an effect on a person’s normal sleep cycle. If time does not permit a full power nap, some people may also benefit from a few minutes of quiet meditation.