Have you ever experienced a time when you’re just not functioning at full capacity? When your eye lids feel heavy - and it's not bedtime? When you need the full power of your brain, but your thinking is cloudy? Or when you need to stay calm but you're feeling frazzled or stressed? Me, too. And, when I do, I take a brief power nap.
Perhaps you're thinking....people who take naps are lazy. Or maybe they're just for babies and the elderly.
Keep reading and you'll discover that isn't true.
The Benefits of Naps
There is quite a lot of research that shows that napping can help to increase focus and attention – and reduce incidences of micro-sleep episodes (where someone might nod off for a micro-second) – dangerous for truck drivers, pilots, and surgeons.
This article in Fast Company does a great job of describing how sleep (and naps) can help reboot the brain.
In fact, think back to a time when you needed to reboot your computer reboot. When your computer was spazzing out – freezing up, the cursor disappears…or some other funky things happened. Isn't it amazing how just shutting down the computer and rebooting it work to get it running smoothly once again?
For me, a short shut eye period, especially mid-afternoon, works the same way for your energy, focus, and productivity.
Do naps make you feel worse afterwards? More tired? Groggy?
Then, stick with me as I share powerful strategies to get the best out of a 10-minute shut-eye.
How to Avoid the Post-Nap Grogginess
Here are eight guidelines to help you make the shut-down time more refreshing:
Short naps are best. Naps should be brief - just 10-20 minutes long. That's because when you sleep, your body and brain goes through 90-minute sleep cycles. If you nap too long, you'll progress from that initial light sleep stage into a deep sleep. And, you want to avoid that. Waking from a deep sleep will make you feel very groggy.
Get a good night's sleep. The more sleep-deprived, the faster you’ll fall into a deep sleep…and wake up feeling groggy. So it's critical to keep your naps to the short time. Maybe closer to 10 minutes, rather than 20.
Set an alarm. While regular nappers tend to wake naturally, if power napping is new to you, you might need to set an alarm. That's to make sure you don't fall into that deep sleep stage.
- Get comfy. Many people nap on a comfy chair while others stretch out on the floor. Or you could just put your head down on your desk. I’ve often gone down to the parking garage during my lunch hour, drop the seat, and taken a nap there.
Best time to nap is 1-3PM. Naps are best taken when your body clock is at its lowest (when you’re most tired). This is often around 1-3PM, but it may be earlier.
Avoid naps after 4PM. Research suggests that late naps may make it difficult to fall asleep quickly in the evening - leading to a poor night's sleep.
Cut your day into two. While the recommendation is to avoid late naps, I've heard numerous stories of people who strategically nap as a bridge from work to home. One guy told me he pulls the car into the garage, turns off the car, and takes a brief nap to recharge for the evening routine. And, the kids know not to disturb Daddy during these daily routine. Another woman is on the road most of the time -oftentimes in different countries on different days. And has work/social engagements most evenings. So, she gets back to the hotel at 5PM for a 20-minute nap around 5PM. She then showers and gets redressed for the evening function. She told me the nap makes her feels like it's a new day.
Drink caffeine BEFORE the nap. Most people take a short nap, THEN drink some caffeine to help them with the grogginess afterwards. But since it takes 30-45 minutes for caffeine to peak in your bloodstream, it’s actually a good idea to drink the caffeine first, THEN take your shut-eye…you’ll wake up more refreshed because the caffeine is peaking when you wake.
Granted, naps are just one tool in the toolbox to reboot your energy, but a power nap can be powerful. Try it and let me know what you think.