The world is becoming a napper’s haven, with companies like Google and even Ben & Jerry, the famous ice cream company, allowing their employees to take naps on the clock.
But just having the opportunity to take a nap doesn’t mean you can easily do it well. Most people experience that midday drowsiness but refrain from power naps because they just don’t know when and how to take them. Others try to exchange the nap for a caffeinated drink and think that it’ll suffice.
Let’s first take a look at the benefits, before we get on to mastering the art that is napping.
Benefits of Napping
Studies have shown that naps drastically boost and restore your brain power. We all know the importance of sleep, and your doctor has surely recommended you to make sure you have 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night. Unfortunately, though, approximately 30% of Americans don’t get enough sleep per night.
With busy schedules and crazy working hours, many people report sleeping for less than 4 hours a night, and naps can be a way to treat sleep deprivation.
Napping helps to refresh your mind, it boosts your intelligence, improves your mental efficiency and productivity, and can even help you lead a longer and healthier life. So, the next time you’re feeling drowsy, it’s better for you to take a nap than a cup of coffee.
Now let’s take a look at how to ensure you have a good power nap.
Early Bird or a Night Owl?
Before you take a nap, it’s best for you to know when’s the perfect time for you to take it. To determine your napping time, learn about your chronotype.
Chronotype is your propensity to sleep at a particular time during a 24-hour period. So, if you were completely free to plan your day how you wanted to, when would you go to sleep, and when would you get up?
If you’re an early bird and prefer to go to sleep at around 9 or 10 in the evening and wake up around 6 in the morning, your best time to take a nap would be around 1 o’clock.
On the other hand, if you’re the type of person to go to bed after midnight and wake up around 8 or 9 a.m., your best napping time would be around 2:30 to 3:00 in the afternoon.
Power naps can vary in duration, and different napping durations give you different results.
Most would recommend a 20-minute power nap. Such a short nap allows for light sleep, and it can improve your mood, increase your alertness and concentration, and improve your motor skills.
Nap for about 45 minutes, and you’re likely to fall into the REM stage of sleep, which enhances your creativity and boosts sensory processing.
If you need to spring right back into action immediately after napping, 20 or 45-minute naps are what you need. If you sleep longer than 45 minutes, you’re more likely to feel groggy and disoriented, so the nap would be of no help to you.
A full 90-minute nap, however, usually includes all stages of normal sleep, it helps you clear your mind and improves your memory.
Since our naps occur around midday, it’s best to come prepared. So, the first thing you’d want to do is get a sleeping mask. It doesn’t only block out the light, it also has a psychological effect of making you feel safe and more isolated from the world, therefore making it easier for you to relax.
You might also want to invest in some quality earplugs. It’s difficult to find a quiet place during the day, and you know how distracting noise can be when you’re trying to sleep. Instead of earplugs, you can also use earphones and put on some white noise.
The last thing you’ll need is obviously an alarm or a timer. Your body won’t be able to wake you up at the right time in the beginning, so this is a must. Your phone will work just fine as an alarm clock, but if you decide to use earplugs, you could invest in vibrating timers that wake you up gently and discreetly.
If you opt for the shorter, 20-minute nap, coffee can be your best friend. It sounds counterintuitive to drink coffee before sleep, but it can actually help you with power naps.
It takes about 20 minutes for the caffeine to kick in, so just before you lay down for a nap, drink a cup of coffee.
When you get up, you’ll get that energy from your nap, which will then be boosted by the caffeine taking effect.
To fall asleep more quickly and easily, you need to learn to relax both your body and mind. It’s almost like meditation before you fall asleep.
The first thing you should do is focus on your breathing and your body. As you lay down, pay attention to your breath and where you feel it in your body. Focus on your nose, your chest, and the abdomen, and feel the full breath as you inhale and exhale.
Then start focusing on your body. If you feel any tension in your muscles, start relaxing them one by one. Start from your neck, down to your back, then focus on the arms and legs. Tense up the muscles slowly, then relax them.
As you pay more attention to your body, your mind will stop wandering and will allow you to sleep more easily.
Practice Makes Perfect
In the beginning, most people find it hard to actually fall asleep in such a short amount of time, and what most people don’t realize is that napping isn’t necessarily sleeping.
Napping is more about giving yourself time to relax and reboot. At first, just let your mind wander, let your thoughts drift off. Within a couple of weeks or months, your body will get used to this, and it will eventually allow you to fall asleep.
If you want to increase your productivity and efficiency, it’s best to give yourself a little break and enjoy all the benefits that napping brings you.