Sleep Researchers Say 20 Minute Naps Can Do Wonders To Combat The Side Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

Mini naps may be the key to feeling more focused and alert throughout the day.

A woman sleeps under a white blanket.
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Mini naps may be the key to feeling more focused and alert throughout the day.

While we all know that at least seven hours of sleep a night is recommended for good overall health, this is simply unattainable for some. For example, parents of a newborn baby, college students, and medical professionals often have to adapt to a lifestyle of functioning on less sleep. While some may feel that they can still perform adequately at work or school without much rest, they might not be taking into account the detrimental toll lack of sleep can take on the body. Failure to get adequate sleep on a regular basis can lead to weight gain, a decreased ability to concentrate, and a rise in blood sugar. Luckily, sleep researchers have a few tips for dealing with sleep deprivation, according to NPR.

Research has shown that new parents get on average less sleep a night than they did before having children. Not only do young children require constant care and attention, but there is simply less time in the day for their parents to dedicate to themselves. Although it may be possible to catch up on sleep over the weekend, this does little to counteract the consequences of inadequate sleep during the week.

While some are hesitant to take a nap for fear of being more sleepy afterwards, sleep researchers say that a 20 minute nap can do wonders to combat the side effects of sleep deprivation. Twenty minutes seems to be the magic time increment that allows one to feel rested and more alert without risking difficulty falling asleep when bedtime finally comes.

Looking for an extra boost of energy? Try out a “caff nap.” Jim Horne, a sleep researcher and professor emeritus of psychophysiology at Loughborough University in the U.K., says this tip has people waking up after their naps feeling alert and energized. The idea is to take a nap shortly after drinking a cup of coffee. While it may seem counter-intuitive, the caffeine should work its way into your system by the time you wake from the nap.

“A 20-minute nap can make up for one hour of lost sleep. People call it a caff nap. That coffee takes 20 minutes to kick in.”

While sleepless nights are bound to happen occasionally, we should be aware of the short term side effects. Sleep specialist Dr. Kevin Winter spoke of the loss of concentration that is common in those who are sleep deprived.

“The short-term effect is that you’re a little more sleepy — your concentration is poor, or [you may lose] words on the tip of your tongue.”