'Short naps have tremendous power to restore performance'
Taking a short nap 15-20 minutes ( 'Power Napping' ) has been shown to improve subsequent performance (even among sleep deprived people). The optimum nap period is 15 minutes.
Napping for short periods is a countermeasure that can be of great benefit if used properly and limitations are recognised. The limitations include;
- Napping requires dissipations of sleep inertia to be beneficial.
- Napping does not promote circadian adjustment to night work.
- Napping does not significantly repay cumulative sleep debt.
Coffee drinking, smoking and snacking are the least effective ways to recuperate. They give us a false sense of energy because substances such as caffeine, nicotine, or sugar give us a brief boost. But then we "crash" to a level lower that what we started with.
There is no evidence that resting without sleep for the same period of time as a nap will reverse sleepiness and promote alertness in an operator who is experiencing fatigue* due to sleep loss no matter how physically restful the rest period may be.
Almost all experts agree that the only truly effective strategy drowsy drivers can take to prevent a crash is to immediately stop driving and get some sleep. If this is not possible a driver should be encouraged to stop, drink some caffeine (the equivalent of two cups of coffee) and take a brief nap before getting back behind the wheel.