To put it simply, a power nap is a short bout of sleep, generally between 10 min to 30 min. It helps to revitalize the brain, improve cognition and lead to better overall productivity. It allows your body to rest and catch up on those long hours of sleep you missed out on, without actually putting in those hours.
According to a study that investigators from the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, taking a nap at midday can effectively help people lower their blood pressure levels. Although it is not a substitute for a good long sleep, it can help reduce the damage from missed sleep while also improving your daily performance. Sleep is divided into 4 to 6 phases, each lasting 90 minutes. A power nap takes place in the first of the two phases, generally, the light sleep phase. The idea of having a 15- 30 min period is to prevent going into a deep sleep.
How to Power nap?
Over the years you may have heard of this technique. The benefits can be beyond just increased alertness and awareness. You may even have tried it out for yourself. Some may have found success but others not so much. The main problem people face when trying this technique is being able to actually fall asleep to begin with. And when they actually do fall asleep, they wake up grumpy and more drained than before.
An ideal power nap is around 15- 30 minutes and on average people take around 7 mins to fall asleep (considering that they do not use their phones or fall for other distractions in between). This means that half of the time is wasted just by falling asleep, hence making the activity unproductive. Here are some quick tips on how to power nap:
The ideal time to have a power nap is between 1 PM and 4 PM. This may vary depending on the schedule of a person. To simplify, we start to feel sleepy again after 8 hours of waking up, usually pretty close to the time when we have our lunch. So try to doze off during your lunch or coffee-break. This way you can adjust your rest and by the time the break is over, you will be ready for another round of hard work.
Beware what you consume
Sleep and food have a direct correlation. Therefore, if you really want to sleep, try cutting back on caffeine. People drink multiple cups of coffee during the day to stay alert and give them the energy to stay productive at work. Coffee or any caffeine-containing drink is a stimulant that can stay in the blood for a while, keeping you completely awake and alert, while further preventing you from falling asleep. Instead of drinking gallons of coffee, a power nap can give you much better results in cognition improvement and higher alertness.
Food rich in carbohydrates, sugar and fat also contributes to sleep-loss. Instead of eating those sleep bandits, try eating foods rich in proteins and calcium that promote healthier sleeping patterns during your day. A warm cup of milk an hour before the nap can help you fall asleep faster.
In order to sleep you need to have a comfortable environment. Make sure you are away from your workplace and somewhere relaxing with fewer crowds. Find somewhere appropriate to nap; An empty conference room, break room or even a garden may suffice. If you have to lay down, try to have a soft mat or blanket with you. Sleeping on a very hard surface may lead to body pain and soreness after the nap. Additionally, get a pillow or neck support for the nap to improve the quality of sleep.
Constant chatter or sounds may distract you from falling asleep. The chatter of your co-workers can take your focus away and interest you to indulge in the conversation. Try noise-canceling headphones to silence the noise. If you’re not a fan of these, try playing some music. Customize a playlist of songs or sounds that can make you feel relaxed. Sounds like binaural beats, wave sounds, and other sleep-inducing tones are readily available on youtube.
Cover your eyes
Our body is naturally not programmed to sleep during the day. The blue light from the sun gets absorbed by our eyes, which sends signals to the brain to stay awake. Cover your eyes with eye covers, a piece of cloth or handkerchief. This will not only help you fall asleep quicker but make the nap more effective.
Timing is key
It is quintessential that you wake up in the given time frame or you will feel more sleepy and grumpy. Set alarms or ask a co-worker to wake you up. This will not only help you wake up in time to get back in action but also prevent you from going into a deep sleep, the cause for feeling sleepy and groggy.
Try a Coffee (No, really)
People around the world work tirelessly day and night. All this hard work can take a toll on the body. The energy drinks and caffeine shots are not a substitute for sleep, but quite the opposite. These products may delay tiredness but over time it will be compounded.
There is however a new hack called the coffee nap, which is a rather interesting and unconventional approach. You first drink a cup of coffee (minimal on creme and sugar) and then immediately lay down to take a nap. The idea is that as you are waking up, the caffeine’s effects are starting to kick in and you will wake up with even more energy and alertness. It’s worth noting, however, that if you’ve had coffee earlier in the day, it may affect the efficiency of this method.
Most will have a problem adapting to sleeping during the day. Don’t give up; give it a few weeks and your body will naturally become accustomed to the change. You will soon condition your body to fall asleep and before you know it, you will automatically feel sleepy during your nap period. If your body is trained to do so and is expecting to sleep, it will be more effective in rejuvenation and revitalization.
We strongly recommend a power nap during the day if you are not getting enough sleep and rest. You do not need to fill your body with substance to stay awake. If you feel sleepy or tired, you should take a rest. It is your body’s way of telling you that you’ve had enough and it is time to stop. It’s a natural parameter of sorts that should never be crossed. With all of this being said, it is not recommended to make power napping a routine, especially if you suffer from Insomnia, as it can disrupt your circadian rhythm even more. Instead, use napping as a recovery method to fall back on when needed.
If you find that you’re always feeling tired and exhausted, you may need to examine your sleeping cycles during the night to determine the prime cause of your tiredness; otherwise, you will never feel completely rested. In short, use naps as a treatment plan and use your nightly sleeping strategy as the cure. Work is important but I think we can agree that health is more important. So whenever you feel tired or sleepy during work, cut yourself some slack, and take a power nap. You will be more productive and perform better work than before.