If you’re like me, there comes a time in the middle of the afternoon when drowsiness washes over you and it’s hard to keep your eyes open. When this happens, I sometimes power through the slump with a big mug of English Breakfast tea. Other times, I embrace the sleepiness. I shut my door, pop in earplugs, pull out the blanket and pillow stashed under my desk, and turn out the light. Before I close my eyes, I set my alarm and turn my phone volume up to ensure I hear it.
My naps are usually 10-30 minutes, and while I don’t always fall asleep in that time, simply laying down and giving my eyes a rest rejuvenates me for the rest of the afternoon.
I don’t know which is better—the relaxing 15-minute cat nap, or the stress relief and mental clarity I feel afterward.
We’re probably all aware of the amazing health benefits of sleep, yet most of us don’t catch as many z’s as we’d like. Several of my clients have goals to get more sleep, and one of the strategies I suggest is implementing power naps.
A quick nap is a simple tool anyone can use to get more sleep, boost productivity and overall feel better and more energetic during the day.
The benefits extend far beyond feeling rested and relaxed. For instance, research by NASA showed that napping for just 26 minutes enhanced pilots’ performance by 34% and their overall alertness by 54%. Take the time to slow down during your afternoon lunch break, and you’ll likely function at a higher capacity for the rest of your day.
Naps also contribute to our long-term health. Napping three times per week for at least 30 minutes has been associated with a 37% reduced risk of death from heart disease. (You can read more about this study here). Personally, I wake up from naps feeling both refreshed, and less stressed. One thing to keep in mind: shorter can be better. If you are groggy and grumpy when you wake, you probably entered into deep sleep. Try just 15 minutes. It’s sufficient to rejuvenate you without making it hard to wake up.
Are you ready to start power napping? Here are some tips to get started.
- Keep all necessary supplies handy. I have earplugs in my desk drawer at work, along with a small pillow and blanket. At home, I use a weighted eye pillow I keep in my bedside table.
- Try napping in your car. Drive to a quiet part of a nearby parking lot and recline your seat.
- Rent a nap station. These are available in many cities and even airports. I’ve personally used Minute Suites in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport for a quick snooze.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, take an AntiGravity Cocooning class which is like an exercise class that guides you into a nap, all while sitting in a cocoon-like swing suspended from the ceiling.
- Listen to a guided relaxation from apps like Headspace or find a meditation or white noise video on YouTube.
- Lastly, don’t forget to set an alarm. Power naps are meant to be short and sweet, and you don’t want to sleep beyond your lunch break.