Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Do power naps work?"
One of my coworkers takes a power nap every day, and she swears by them. To me, it just seems like a fad. Is there any evidence that power naps actually help people have more energy and stay focused?
Sleep science is a complex field. There are specific sleep neurologists (a specialized brain doctor) that focus on the importance of sleep. If you are experiencing any troubles relating to sleep (either not getting enough or requiring too much), I would discuss this with your primary doctor who could refer you to a sleep neurologist. In general, getting an appropriate amount of sleep is important for your health.
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Through the various sleep stages, the body undergoes restorative functions of the brain, muscles and vital organs. Generally speaking, an adult will require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night for overall health. Of note, there is data that excessive sleep beyond those amounts might be detrimental. There is in fact a body of evidence that power naps improve one's ability to stay focused. Data shows that after power naps people have improved memory and cognitive skills. There are also studies that suggest that a nap can subsequently improve one's motor skills. That being said, it is extremely hard to tease apart if sleep in general or the nap itself is of benefit. I don't think anyone can definitively say it is better to sleep 8 hours a night VERSUS 6 hours a night + 2 hours of an afternoon nap. Power naps may work. There is data to suggest they do. However, I think most doctors would say that ensuring an adequate quantity of sleep is more important than any specific nap regimen. Discuss any major plans for changing your sleep habits with your doctor.
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