The Power of The Nap

Napping is good; my childhood was wasted crying to stay awake!

The Power of The Nap

If I could go back in time, I would go back to my 4 year old self that was dead set on keeping my eyes open through the ENTIRE day to become a ‘big kid’. Many hours were wasted fighting with my parents, hell, fighting with my body, just to be awake so I can say I didn’t take a nap. Flash forward twenty some years and I would love to be forced to take a nap. Sadly that is not the reality of my adult life and my 40-hour a week job. However, science is showing that making time for naps have countless positive effects on things such as productivity all the way down to your body’s inner functionality!

Our Bodies Dance to Their own Tune!

Our bodies all function off our own personal circadian rhythm, say what? That’s a fancy term for the 24 hour cycle that your body goes through each day. We all have our own circadian rhythm, and each person is different. They are influenced by things such as sunlight and our feeding schedule. There are clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to this daily cycle.

Mid-day Slump

As adults there are certain times throughout the day that our rhythm takes a bigger dip. You might be familiar with the term “mid-day slump”, turns out this is a real thing. Between 1:00-3:00 PM we experience a dip in our circadian rhythm and that is when we get drowsy, can’t focus, start questioning your thoughts and just overall less effective in your tasks. Now this “slump” can look different to each person and can vary by the day. If you get a great night sleep, your circadian rhythm will not have such a severe drop during the day, you might not even notice it.

Let’s Take a Brain Break

So now you know a bit more about why you might feel the need for a nap. Let’s talk about what the nap can do for you because I already know what you are thinking “who in the world has time for a nap?!”. The answer is rather simple, if you struggle through your circadian rhythm dip, you will be less productive, irritable and less alert, and likely have to redo simple tasks you usually have no problem completing.

Studies show that taking a 10-20 minute nap can help to boost alertness and energy making the rest of your day more productive and meaningful. By keeping your nap on the shorter side, you will stay out of the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep that makes for a smoother transition back to whatever it is that you need to do! As with most things, listen to your body, it knows you best. Some people find that their body needs more or less to recharge.

Avoid The Nap Hangover

If you nap for too long you can wind up with a hangover like feeling, leaving you in a groggy state for a while before you are back up and running. If you experience this, you need to cut your time back a bit. It will take some testing to find out what works best for your body as well as the best time of the day for you to take a nap.

Famous People Who Loved to Nap

Winston Churchill once said ”Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces” From his book “The Gathering Storm”.

John F. Kennedy would nap for up to two hours without fail as part of his daily routine. Kennedy was not to be awoken unless it was a true emergency and would always be joined by Jackie

Studies, Research and My Opinion

There are many studies and ongoing research surrounding the benefits of napping yielding results such as improving memory, lessening the susceptibility to death by heart related diseases, blood pressure, dementia, weight control and immunity. Most of these studies are very specific in the demographic that it researched and at this time I’m not seeing anything that would make me feel comfortable stating any of those are a tested outcome across the board. What I can tell you with certainty is this; every human body has dips in their circadian rhythm, which literally makes us sleepy in the afternoon. Finding a nap period that works for you will release serotonin which produces feeling of wellbeing and can reverse the effects of stress, increases alertness and can increase productivity. Personally, I would rather find time for a 30-minute siesta and return to raring to go than struggle through the day working slower, not to my ability and likely having to redo the work I produce.

What Is HRV Training?

HEART RATE VARIABILITY TRAINING

Are you familiar with the concept of HRV or Heart Rate Variability training? If not, then it’s worth your time to get it’s know – how.

Let’s start with meditation. Meditation is the strongest practice, that I have ever came across, for increasing focus, developing self- control and training the mental toughness  essential for navigating the ups and downs of making your own career path in life and being your own boss.

The issue with meditation is that most of the people take it seriously at first and then fail to establish a regular habit of continuing it. A great reason for this behavior is that people don’t get any direct biofeedback on how well they are performing. This is the point where the need of heart rate variability training is felt.

WHAT IS HRV?

HRV stands for heart rate variability. It is a physiological phenomenon. It is a variation in the duration between every two heartbeats. It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval.

In other words, heart rate variability is simply a measure of the variation in time interval between each heartbeat. This variation in the time interval is managed by a primary part of the nervous system known as the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

It functions regardless of our wants and adjusts, among other things, our heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion. The ANS is divided into two large portions, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, also called the fight-or-flight mechanism.

Information or data is continuously processed in brain in a region called the hypothalamus. Through the ANS, the hypothalamus, sends signals to the whole body either to stimulate or to relax different functions.

It responds not only to a poor sleep, or that bitter communication with your colleagues or your boss, but also to the exciting events or news that you are selected for a job, or to that unexpected tasty healthy meal you had for dinner. All kinds of stimuli are managed by our body and thus life goes on. Anyhow, if you have constant instigators like stress, poor sleep, unhealthy diet, isolation, and lack of exercise, this balance may be disturbed, and your fight-or-flight response can switch into overdrive.

Many people leave meditation and exercising just because of the fact that they get demotivated. This demotivation is dependent on many factors but the crucial one is that people don’t get any direct biofeedback on their performance.

Biofeedback is a method which one can use to learn how to control one’s body’s functions like heart rate. In biofeedback, one is linked with electrical sensors that helps in receiving information (feedback or response) of one’s body (bio).

This feedback helps one in emphasizing on making fine changes in his/her body. Fine changes include relaxing specific muscles in order to accomplish the results one wants, like to lessen the muscle pain. In a nutshell, biofeedback empowers one to utilize one’s thoughts for controlling body, usually for improving health condition or physical productivity.

HRV Tracking

Through heart rate variability, one can really get a good understanding of the flexibility of the heart, which is a good predictor of a healthy and long life.

I’m a big nerd when it comes to self-quantified data so every single morning I religiously take one simple measurement of my HRV

For tracking HRV a variety of app and devices are may be used. Let’s take iHeart as an example. It actually measures your HRV and not only this, also it tells you about your “internal age” by calculating and measuring the stiffness of your aorta. The stiffness of aorta is used as an indicator of the health of the heart and it predicts the risk of sudden deaths from many reasons.

HRV Tracker

If you really want to track your heart rate variability, I would suggest going with HeartMath’s Inner Balance. There are too many other HRV trackers such as EliteHRV, HRV4training etc. but they are ideal for those who wears heart rate sensors.

Heart Math provides a simple-to-use system for anyone for daily practice. It has a healthy UX and is available not only for iOS but also Android.

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What is a good Heart Rate Variability?

The average Heart Rate Variability score is approximately 59 for Elite HRV users. It tells you about the above or below average value or score, which is quite interesting for one to know but it doesn’t shows whether your score is good or bad.

A higher Heart Rate Variability score (a greater HRV) at rest is usually an indicator of a better health, a younger internal age or a biological age and a better aerobic fitness. Furthermore, everything from your mindset, to air quality, to age, and exercise patterns affects HRV (Heart Rate Variability).

Your personal circumstances, your starting point, and your objective. Comparing you to yourself over time is usually the most essential and effective way of accomplishing your goals.

The Importance of a Healthy HRV

How one builds up compared to one’s age and gender demographics?

If one’s HRV scores are below one’s age-gender demographic range, then he/she may have underlying health issues which are negatively affecting his/her internal or biological age and should be addressed at-once. Adversely, if one’s Heart Rate Variability scores are regularly higher than one’s comparable age-gender demographic range, Then his/her biological age might be younger than his/her chronological age.

HRV CHARTS

It should be kept in mind that the elite HRV users’ base doesn’t indicate the general population. Representatives of Elite and recreational athletes have a higher Heart Rate Variability score. This may result in a little bit of data skewness. The average HRV score for Elite HRV users is 59.3 (on a 1-100 scale)

Elite HRV users
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Normative Elite HRV Scores by Age and Gender

The Elite HRV population sample was further divided into age and gender groups. This division was based on user input data to enable users to compare themselves to others within their same demographic group.

Males:

Elite HRV Score
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Elite HRV Score
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Females:

Elite HRV Score
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Males

Elite HRV Score
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