Napping is the new mid-afternoon pick me up. It’s the best thing you can do when you’ve not slept well or needed more time in bed. Naps are proven to increase alertness, reduce stress, boost memory, improve perception and stamina, brighten your mood, improve motor skills and accuracy, and that’s just after you’ve woken up. Long term they can have the benefits that general good sleep can give you, like aid weight loss and reduce the risk of a heart attack.
But there are good ways to nap and there are bad ways to nap. Here’s a quick guide on what to do, and what not to do for your nap to give you the best benefit.
Good ways to nap
If you can’t nap, the next best thing would be to meditate for 20 minutes instead. Taking time out away from what you’re doing can have a significant effect on boosting your productivity, whether you nap or not.
The benefits of a nap are proven. Research conducted in London found that 2:55pm is the least productive time of the day. A great way to spend that time is napping. At 3:30pm you can be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to get on with a highly productive afternoon.
A 10 to 20-minute nap can be much more beneficial than an hour-long nap and also more realistic day to day. Trying to leave what you’re doing for more than half an hour can sometimes be impossible. It’s a good job that napping for 20 minutes has much more benefit than anything longer, which can leave you feeling groggy.
Taking a nappuccino is a double whammy in increasing your alertness. Daniel H. Pink, in his book ‘When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’* suggests taking a nappuccino. He found, after a little experimentation, that having a drink of coffee and then taking a 20-minute nap means you can wake up with an extra boost. Coffee takes about 25 minutes to enter the bloodstream so a coffee then a nap means you wake up able to face anything. It’s also been proven in a study with 12 sleepy individuals using 200mg of caffeine. That’s one cup of from beans coffee. Although not a large enough sample of people to be definitive, give it a go and see what happens you may become a convert like Pink.
Make sure you find a suitable place to nap where you can be undisturbed and free from distraction. This can sometimes be easier said than done, but nothing a good pair of earplugs and a strategically written sign can’t solve.
Bad ways to nap
Sleeping for more than 30 minutes can cause sleep inertia, that groggy feeling you can get on waking. Best to keep your naps to 10 or 20 minutes for the best boost to your productivity.
Sugar can hinder your attempts at a decent nap, making you too wired to nap at all. A sugary energy drink or packet of Haribo may not be the best pre-nap alternative to a coffee. Opt for sugar-free everything for a few hours before you want to take a nap.
If you can’t nap, don’t force it or worry about it. Taking a break away from what you’re doing. Going outside, moving around and connecting with a friend can have restorative benefits too.
Naps have the power to make your day even more productive and give you the boost you need to get the results you want throughout the day. If you find it makes it difficult for you to sleep well at night, it may not be for you. But try it and see what happens. You never know it might replace your mid-afternoon sugary snack.
If you’d like to read Daniel H. Pink’s book, ‘When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’ you can buy it from Wordery.*
*This is an affiliate link. If you use this link to make a purchase Live Differently will earn a commission. Please keep in mind that we link to products that we use ourselves or recommend, not because of the commission we receive. That’s just a bonus. It’s up to you if you want to use an affiliate link or not.
Photo by Max Böhme on Unsplash