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Napping: the Secret to Enhanced Brain Power and Health

"No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap."

-Carrie Snow

"Beauty Sleep" and "Beauty Rest" are ideas that have been around for a long time. The concept is that by getting more sleep - whether by sleeping in an extra hour or taking frequent naps - you can prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging.

I’ll be honest - I always thought this was just some excuse to be lazy and sleep in. But then I stumbled upon some interesting studies that proved me wrong.

You see, recent scientific findings show that regular napping actually DOES improve your skin appearance! But that’s just the beginning because as I kept digging, I found even more studies on napping, and it turns out that napping also leads to healthier and larger brains!

The Science of Napping and Aging

A joint study by University College London and the University of the Republic in Uruguay examined the sleep patterns and brain sizes of individuals aged 40 to 69. They focused on the participants' napping habits and observed a fascinating correlation.

Those who indulged in daytime naps were found to have noticeably larger brains!

This is a particularly significant finding, given that after age 40, our brains shrink at least 5% each decade.

But remarkably, regular nappers had brains that were, on average, 6.5 years “younger” in size compared to their non-napping counterparts.

It seems there’s something to “Beauty Rest” after all!

Enhancing Cognitive Function Through Napping

Apart from brain size, napping has also been linked to improved cognitive abilities.

One study had two groups take a cognitive test. The control group didn’t take a nap beforehand, but the test group did.

So, who performed better on the test?

The napping group performed significantly better!

This suggests that napping not only benefits brain size, but also its functionality. One theory as to why is due to “memory consolidation” - a process where the brain takes short-term memory and information and moves it to long-term storage.

Imagine your mind is like an open web browser with 100 tabs open. Memory consolidation is essentially where the brain bookmarks the tabs that are important before closing and refreshing the browser so that you can wake up with a clean slate.

It’s no surprise then that the folks with a clean browser were able to perform better on their cognitive tests than the group who had 100+ tabs running in the background.

The Impact of Napping on Overall Health

Beyond the brain, napping also has positive effects on bodily health too.

Studies found that naps bolster the immune system, enhance neuroendocrine responses, and provide a boost to energy levels.

Napping also reduces the effects of daily stress by flushing out excess cortisol and balancing brain chemistry. It also offers an opportunity for those with inconsistent nighttime sleep patterns to reduce their sleep deficit, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease and stress-related health issues.

Embracing the Habit of Napping

For lifelong nappers like my wife, this habit comes naturally. Not only has she been taking naps since she was a kid, but she claims her naps are crucial to her health since her career as a nurse had her working the overnight shift for years. Even on the day shift, she often gets called in overnight when there’s an emergency surgery.

I, on the other hand, have always been opposed to napping. Even as a child, the concept of napping just seemed like a chore or was counterproductive. What if I missed something while I was asleep?

But I have to admit… Now that I understand the health benefits of napping, maybe my parents and teachers had a good reason for trying to force “nap time” onto me.

So, if you’re like me and you feel like you might want to give this whole napping thing a try, here are 5 tips you can use to improve your chances of getting a successful nap in.

  1. Create a Comfortable Napping Environment: Ensure a quiet, dim, and temperate space. Consider a sleep mask or blackout curtains for optimal darkness.

  2. Establish a Nap Routine: Set a daily nap time, ideally in the early to mid-afternoon, to avoid disrupting night-time sleep.

  3. Limit Nap Duration: Aim for 10 to 30-minute naps to avoid grogginess and maximize benefits.

  4. Shift Your Mindset: View napping as a valuable self-care practice that enhances brain health and reduces stress.

  5. Employ Relaxation Techniques: Use methods like deep breathing or meditation to aid in falling asleep.

Patience and consistency are key in developing a napping routine, especially for those unaccustomed to it.

My Personal Napping Journey

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that despite my research, I initially struggled with napping. My mind would just keep going a mile a minute, leaving me frustrated and restless. Eventually, I would catch myself just lying there thinking instead of sleeping, look at the time, and see that I’d “wasted” 5, 10, 15 minutes already!

Luckily, I work for one of the best meditation technology companies in the world - Centerpointe Research Institute.

Centerpointe’s Holosync neuro-audio meditation technology gives you control over your brainwave states, meaning that it can help with everything from meditation to napping.

There’s one particular Holosync soundtrack that was designed to give you the perfect power-nap. It’s called "Rejuvenation."

This 25-minute power nap tool helped me fall asleep quickly and wake up refreshed - without accidentally sleeping for 3 hours!

It's one of the soundtracks in the Holosync Sleep Suite II, which is a meditation collection designed to help anyone optimize their sleep cycle, improve their sleep quality, and even harness the power of power naps!

The Power of Napping is Yours

Now that you're aware of the numerous benefits of napping, I encourage you to integrate this practice into your life. You might be pleasantly surprised by the positive impact it has on your brain and your body.



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