Congratulations – if you’re all into the power nap, you’re in illustrious company. Einstein, Winston Churchill, JFK, and even Leonardo da Vinci were all fans of the afternoon brain shut down. Whether this indicates some kind of connection to greatness is pushing it – but what isn’t in doubt are the benefits of taking 40 winks and enjoying a mental timeout from the rigors of the day.
There was a time when napping during the day found you labeled as a slob. A lazy degenerate with a bad attitude. Well, the sleepyheads out there will be pleased to hear that this is no longer the case – quite the opposite actually.
These days, you don’t need to steal a few minutes of shuteye at a café or on a train. Employers are increasingly recognizing the benefits of a power nap as an effective means of stimulating both attention and performance and are taking this into consideration when planning office layouts and schedules.
However, approaching the issue can raise some questions. When is the best time for a nap? What happens if I nap too long? Where should I try to take my power nap? Well, wonder no more – here’s our 5-point guide to getting the perfect power nap and enjoying a more productive day.
Rule 1 – Power napping is not for everyone
Sorry, but a power nap doesn’t work for all of us. If you suffer from insomnia or have trouble sleeping at night, power napping is probably a bad idea. It can confuse your body clock, disrupt an already dysfunctional routine and you could be staring at the ceiling until the wee small hours.
Rule 2 – Duration is king
The key to successful power napping is its length. Too much takes you into deep sleep mode, leaving you tired and groggy afterward. Too little is……….well it’s just not enough. Experts tell us that maximum recharging during a power nap is achieved by going from stage 1 sleep (that lovely ‘drifting off’ feeling) to stage 2 (slowdown of brain activity). Going any further is not advised. So how long does this process take? In most people, a power nap length of 15 to 20 minutes is just perfect.
Rule 3 – Timing is everything
The timing of your power nap is crucial – so it’s only right we consult with the people who do it best. The siesta is a long-established cultural pillar in many Mediterranean countries so it would be logical to assume that the sweet spot for power napping is ‘siesta time’. In other words, sometime after lunch and before 3 pm. After the post-lunch energy crash, many people lose focus. Don’t leave it too late though – napping after 3 pm could have an adverse effect on your night’s sleep.
Rule 4 – Find your ‘nappy’ place
First, please excuse the terrible pun in the headline. We couldn’t resist it – but in our defense, choosing your napping zone is a serious business. A place where there’s less risk of being disturbed is a good start. If you can lie down, all the better, although a comfortable chair or even a reclining work chair can do the job too. And why not use those expensive noise-reducing headphones for something other than music? They’ll keep out intrusive noise as well as acting as a ‘stay away’ warning to your co-workers!
Rule 5 – The dozing is in details
So you’ve established you’re a power napper and decided the duration, place, and timing – so what now? Well before you doze off, eliminate as many distractions as possible. Close your laptop or mobile. Shut off your computer screen. If you have a landline telephone (yes, they still exist), divert or hold incoming calls. If you’re lucky enough to have an assistant, tell them you’re in ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. Whatever it takes!
As promised, here’s your surprise
Drinking coffee just before a power nap sounds like a crazy idea. However, there are physiological reasons that make it perfect sense. Caffeine doesn’t kick in straight away. It takes between 20 and 45 minutes to start to do its job. So if you drink a cup just before your power nap, you’ll feel more alert when you wake up. Try it – it really works!