by Marwan Hamed, MPH

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were something you could do to improve your health by just lying down, closing your eyes, and falling asleep for a bit? Well, there is — a power nap!

Power naps are brief episodes of sleep, usually during the daytime, that help people feel more refreshed and improving their mood and alertness.

Power naps and health

Scientists from around the world are interested in learning more about the health benefits of power napping and have done many studies trying to find more answers.

One Swiss study found that people who nap once or twice per week had a lower chance of a heart or vein event than people who did not take naps. Also, this study found that the length of the nap didn’t have any noticeable effects on heart or vein health.

Power napping the right way!

Take your nap in the early afternoon so you don’t mess up your nighttime sleep.

10-minute naps are ideal, but it’s also okay to go a bit longer. Just try to limit your nap to no longer than 30 minutes.

A short nap can be very helpful before an exhausting task like a long late night drive or trying to finish up a project for work.

Another study that focused on the effects of napping on stress hormones linked to the heart found that napping can release stress and improve immunity by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the body.

Power naps have also been shown to improve brain function, memory, and athletic performance, and as a practice helpful to reduce social anxiety.

Doctors power nap! Why don’t you?

Doctors are people too! And there is guidance from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education — “an independent, not-for-profit, physician-led organization that sets and monitors the professional educational standards essential in preparing physicians to deliver safe, high-quality medical care to all Americans” — that doctors should take a mandatory power nap, especially after grueling 16-hour shifts.

These power naps are important to remain alert, reduce their fatigue, and improve the quality of care doctors deliver to their patients. Doctors are advised to take power naps for the health and safety of themselves and others. So, it seems wise to try to power nap because it won’t only be the doctor’s advice, but advice for the doctor as well.

Can’t nap? Meditate instead.

Do you want to take a power nap but find it difficult to shut off everything around you or are you consumed by too much worry that you will go into a deeper sleep and not wake up for hours?

Your concerns are valid and there is an alternative for you.

A group of researchers that set out to study the effects of power napping have come up with the insight that a 40-minute meditation session has the same effects as a 10 to 20 minute nap. Both of which are ideal for improving our health!

So, if you find it difficult to take a nap, maybe a 40-minute meditation is the way to go.

At CET, we love finding ways to help people, but we rely on your feedback and help in return. So please participate and help us to help more people!

Marwan Hamed is a freelance writer for CET.