Posted by Nicole on October 7, 2014

You should already know that sleep is important to your mental health, and your physical health. Sleeping helps to regulate your hormone production, gives your body proper time to check and regulate its own systems, and also provide you with the much needed mental clarity that you will call upon to do your work for the day. What you may not know is having the occasional, or even better, regular, nap can have a lot of benefits.

 Here are a few examples of naps, and some ideas that are worth considering:

The Lunch Nap: A relatively new concept in North America, but practiced throughout other parts of the world. Frequently couched within meals or planned breaks in work, especially in countries like Spain, the “power nap” is a determined, short, and extremely refreshing way to nap, usually during the middle of the day.

A Nap That Could Save Your Life: Driving across the state, and feeling drowsy? Scientists have shown that the effects of sleep deprivation and fatigue on the body are even more debilitating to your judgment and reaction time than being highly intoxicated. That's seriously dangerous when you're behind the wheel of a fast moving, heavy, metal vehicle. If you're feeling tired behind the wheel, pull into a safe area, and take a nap. Even a half an hour could refresh you. Never pull over to the side of the road into an emergency lane to nap. The further you are away from traffic, the safer you will be.

Power Napping by Numbers: Want to really tinker with your sleep cycle, and get away with doing more by having more waking time? You may be able to cut as many as two to three and a half hours off of your continual, unbroken sleep cycle by adding in regularly scheduled half hour naps. Every 30 minute nap that you take can take roughly an hour off of how long you need to sleep at night. Some very serious power nappers attempt to take only 30 minute naps throughout the day, all kept to an extremely rigorous schedule. Even missing one of these 30 minute naps can completely fatigue you, so this is only for the most hardcore of sleep hackers.

Fuel for the Dream Machine: A 30 minute nap can give you a significant boost in your level of alertness, which is why that is the length of time recommended if you want to try and fit only one into your regular day. To take that performance even further, it takes caffeine roughly 45 minutes to have its full effects on the brain. That means that you can drink a cup of coffee, nap, and then wake up with both the power of having recently slept, and coffee. The effects can overlap and play off one another quite well.

If you're someone who quite often sleeps less than they should, the answer lies in finding the right rhythm to your napping, and to stick with it. Your brain and body will thank you.