What is sleep and it’s stages? You have two kinds of “sleep”, Non- REM, and REM. Non-REM (NREM), consists of four stages of sleep, each deeper than the last. These stages are: Stage 1 (Transition to sleep) – This first stage lasts for about five minutes, give or take. Your eyes move slowly under the eyelids, muscle activity slows down, and you are easily awakened. This stage is the stage where you enter sleep. Stage 2 (Light sleep) – Second stage of sleep, lasting from 10 to 25 minutes. Eye movement stops, heart rate slows, and body temperature decreases. Stage 3 (Deep sleep) – Third stage of sleep, where you’re difficult to awaken. If you are awakened, you do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes, hence that nauseous feeling after rudely being awakened by some rude person. Stage 4 (Intense deep sleep) – Fourth stage of sleep, and the deepest stage of sleep. Brain waves are extremely slow; with blood flow is directed away from the brain and towards the muscles, restoring physical energy. REM sleep occurs about 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep, which is where dreaming occurs. Eyes move rapidly (hence REM or rapid eye movement), breathing is shallow, heart rate and blood pressure increase, and arm and leg muscles are paralyzed. What does a power nap have to do with this and how is it any different from a regular naps? A power nap is a short nap (between 20-30 minutes), which ends before the occurrence of deep sleep or slow-wave sleep (SWS), intended to quickly revitalize the individual in question. Once reaching stage three, waking up becomes extremely hard. Failing to complete the normal sleep cycle can result in a phenomenon known as sleep inertia, where one feels groggy, disoriented and basically crappier compared to the beginning of a nap. This is because you are basically disrupting your bodies natural sleep cycle and it doesn’t like it one bit. With regular naps, you can sometimes wake up and experience this, resulting from negative gains. Power naps however, are designed to prevent “Nappers” from entering that state of deep sleep (Stage 3) and disrupting the sleep cycle, while still supplementing normal sleep. Researchers have found in recent years that the human body requires only as much sleep, as the brain will allow it. In other words, so long as the brain is functioning at full capacity, there’s no great requirement for sleep (except for repairing the body). The big thing is however is that the brain needs a rest every now and then. You brain is like a gas tank. It needs to be refilled and re energized, except instead of gas, it needs sleep. This can be accomplished with just a short, 20-minute power nap. The benefits of power naps include but not limited too: Get motivated to exercise. More zzz’z equals more energy for workouts, especially when you haven’t been sleeping well. Getting proper sleep provides your body and mind energy, equaling more intense workouts, which can help aid you in getting stronger faster or losing weight. “If you want to increase your chances of losing weight, reduce your stress level and get adequate sleep. A new Kaiser Permanente study found that people trying to lose at least 10 pounds were more likely to reach that goal if they had lower stress levels and slept more than six hours but not more than eight hours a night.” (Science Daily) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329095440.htm Increased cognitive functioning. “In a recent study, researchers at NASA showed that a 30-minute power nap increased cognitive faculties by approximately 40 percent! Tests carried out on one thousand volunteers proved that those who continued working without rest, made lower scores in intelligence tests like the IQ test. More importantly, their capacities to work and memorize decreased in comparison to those who napped after lunch. In concordance with NASA’s work, biology students at Berkeley determined that the nap must be short in order to produce maximum effectiveness. Over forty five minutes, the beneficial effects of napping disappear and it is therefore suggested to take a fifteen to thirty five minute “power nap”. This is the time necessary for the organism to rest and enables brain neurons to recuperate.” (Ririan) Increased alertness and productivity. Lets face it; you have better reflexes awake and alert then sluggish and sleep deprived. “It turns out that toddlers are not the only ones who do better after an afternoon nap. New research has found that young adults who slept for 90 minutes after lunch raised their learning power, their memory apparently primed to absorb new facts.” (Flores) http://biznik.com/articles/afternoon-nap-is-the-new-trend-in-productivity Also: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/4636.php Less stress. Stress is linked to our body’s natural fight or flight response. When you encounter things that you perceive as a threat (A dog barking at you or dealing with financial issues), your body goes into that mode, releasing both adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol is the main stress hormone and increases glucose levels in the bloodstream and availability of substances that aid in tissue repair. Cortisol also inhibits any function that would be nonessential or detrimental to the fight or flight response, alters the immune system, and suppresses the digestive system, reproductive system, and growth process. Your bodies will self regulate itself and decrease hormone levels so it may return the body to normal, but with stress surrounding us in daily life, we constantly stay on edge, and in that flight or fight mode. With long term activation of said mode it can lead to overexposure of stress hormones and disruption of body processes, resulting in increased risk of numerous health problems. Naps can help with these issues as they can act as a stress relieving activity, similar to going out for a vacation. Sleep deprivation can also be a contributor to stress. When you stress, your regular sleep schedule can be impacted, resulting in loss of sleep. That loss of sleep will contribute to your stress level, and the cycle continues. However, by catching up on sleep via nap, you serve to decrease your stress levels, and will have served to help stop the cycle. After taking nap, you will feel refreshed, have lowered stress levels, and will have to energy to tackle the things left that are causing you stress. More about stress: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/SR00001 Are naps for everyone? Napping isn’t for everyone though. If your sleep cycle is and has been hectic for an extended period of time (ex. Insomnia, Depression, and Chronic Sleep Disorder), a nap would serve to throw your Circadian rhythm into further chaos. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/circadian-rhythm Also, to be safe, you should always consult a doctor before venturing into anything new involving your body. Besides that, you should take naps. Naps are energizing. Naps are fun. Naps are cool. Citation: "Nap." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 30 July 2011 at 19:45. Web. 4 Aug 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nap>. "Power nap." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 29 June 2011 at 01:03.. Web. 4 Aug 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_nap>. "10 benefits of power napping and how to do it." Ririanproject. September 4 . Web. 4 Aug 2011. <http://ririanproject.com/2007/09/05/10-benefits-of-power-napping-and-how-to-do-it/>. N/A, . "How Much Sleep Do You Need?." HelpGuide.org. HelpGuide, July 2011. Web. 4 Aug 2011. <http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm>. "Can Napping at Work Increase Your Productivity?." Medical News Today. N.p., 08 Nov 2003. Web. 20 Aug 2011. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/4636.php>. Mayo Clinic Staff, . "Stress: Constant stress puts your health at risk." May Clinic. May Clinic, Sept. 11, 2010. Web. 20 Aug 2011. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/SR00001>. "The Effect of Brief Naps on Alertness and Cognitive Performance." Tasty Research. N.p., October 13, 2006. Web. 20 Aug 2011. <http://tastyresearch.com/2006/10/13/the-effect-of-brief-naps-on-alertness-and-cognitive-performance/>. Kaiser Permanente. "Moderate sleep and less stress may help with weight loss." ScienceDaily, 26 May 2011. Web. 20 Aug. 2011. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329095440.htm/>. Flores, Charina L . "Afternoon Nap is the New Trend in Productivity?." Biznik. N.p., Mar 08, 2010. Web. 20 Aug 2011. <http://biznik.com/articles/afternoon-nap-is-the-new-trend-in-productivity>. I would like to give a huge thank you to Simon S for taking the time to give criticism to my article. Tip of a hat and a bowl of sushi to you Sir. Please check out Simon's articles regarding health.