If you think napping is only for preschoolers and lazy people, think again. Naps can be beneficial for both your productivity as well as your health. There’s a reason that big companies have been implementing daytime sleep into their day-to-day schedules.
A power nap is a nap that is long enough to get you through the day, but not too long that you feel groggy and are unable to sleep at night. For a truly effective power nap, follow these simple rules.
1. Understand the Purpose of Napping
The first step in getting a killer power nap is to understand that you’re not being lazy. Napping will make you more productive and more alert after you’ve woken up. The worst thing you can do before a nap is tell yourself that it’s a bad thing to do. Then, you’ll never get to sleep and you would’ve wasted time arguing with yourself.
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2. Find a Good Place to Nap
In order to get the most out of your nap, you’ll need to find a peaceful and quiet place where you won’t be disturbed by others. Here are three places – outside of your home – to nap at, and how to get it done:
- Napping at work: A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that about 30% of people are allowed to sleep while at work. Some employers even provide employees a place to nap. If your place of work doesn’t have this perk, you can take a power nap in your car.
- Napping on the road: If you’re driving, try and find a rest area to park in. Do not park on the shoulder of the road. Always turn your car off and set the emergency brake.
- Napping at school: A break between classes is the perfect time to find an empty classroom or a super quiet area in the far corner of the library to get some zzzzz’s.
3. Set Optimal Conditions
Choosing a dark room is always ideal. By blocking out the light, you’ll fall asleep much faster. If you can’t get that dark room, a sleep mask or even a pair of sunglasses can provide a semblance of darkness.
Also, you want to make sure it’s not too warm or too cold. You want to be comfortable for a perfect power nap, so look for a cool place. Most people sleep the best around 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius. Have a blanket or jacket ready if you do get too cold.
4. Have Caffeine Right Before Your Nap
I know what you’re thinking, and yes it does sound counter-intuitive since caffeine is a strong stimulant. But, you will not feel the effects immediately, especially if you’re needing a nap of less than 30 minutes. Caffeine takes about 30-45 minutes to be absorbed into the body and take effect. “Caffeine naps” may improve efficiency and reduce sleepiness once you wake up.
Take note: if it’s late in the afternoon you should probably skip the coffee, since it will make it harder to sleep at bedtime.
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5. Set an Alarm
Of course, setting an alarm will keep you from oversleeping during your nap. You need to know how long you want to be asleep for, and set your alarm as you get yourself comfortable. Setting an alarm relaxes you, as you already know you won’t be oversleeping.
You should keep in mind how long you need to fall asleep as well. Let’s say you want a 20 minute nap, and it usually takes you about five minutes to fall asleep. You’ll want to set your alarm for 25 minutes.
6. Listen to Guided Nap Recordings
There are so many videos, podcasts, and apps that will guide you through relaxation techniques specifically for napping. These may be found online through streaming websites, or you can download these on your phone or tablet.
Pro Tip: If you’re using your phone to listen to a guided nap, put it on airplane mode. This prevents phone calls or messages from disturbing you.
7. The 4-7-8 Exercise to Sleep Quickly
If you’re having trouble falling asleep try this exercise: Close your eyes, and exhale completely. Then, breathe in slowly to a count of four. Hold your breath to a count of seven; then, breath out your mouth to a count of eight while making a whooshing sound. Inhale one breath in, and repeat the cycle a few times. This should help put you to sleep quickly because it lowers your heart rate and focuses your mind on one continuous process.
8. Keep Your Eyes Closed
Even if you’re still unable to fall asleep during your power nap, just keep your eyes shut and meditate. You may not fall asleep, but you can still help your brain cool off and recharge a little. Also, incorporating short lapses of sleep into your daily routine can help your body “train” itself to expect a nap during the day. You’ll find it’s easier to fall asleep after that.
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