Are you a napper? If you're not, maybe you should be. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a good 20-minute nap is good for your focus, your mood and your overall performance.
Plus, it just feels good.
Even better? The longer you nap, the more benefits you'll reap. A nice 30 to 60-minute nap will help improve your decision-making skills and your memory, and 60 to 90-minutes spent napping helps boost the area of your brain that regulates creativity. But even a short nap can be astonishingly helpful.
So the next time you need to be at the top of your game in the middle of the day, consider finding a quiet place and catching a power nap.
Naps Help Alleviate Sleep Deprivation
Who says lost sleep is never found again? According to Sarah C. Mednick, Ph.D, author of the book Take a Nap! Change Your Life, a nice power nap can help offset the negative effects of sleep deprivation while helping to improve motor skills. And while there is no best nap length, research seems to indicate that 90-minutes yields many positive overall results.
Finding Time to Nap
Unfortunately, in the real world, it's often difficult to find time for a mid-day nap, especially if you're a member of the 9-to-5 club. Napping on the clock is generally frowned upon and may even lead to dire repercussions. So when you decide to indulge in that short, efficient power nap, make sure you're clocked out and on your own time.
Lunchtime is a perfect opportunity for nap taking if you can find someplace that's out-of-the-way and quiet enough -- in your car, in an unused office or cubicle, or even in the rest room if necessary. If all else fails, take a few minutes to lean back and stretch out at your desk. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing to help induce rest and relaxation.
Of course, if you're one of the millions of Americans fortunate enough to work from home, finding time to nap may be a little easier. When you can, plan your schedule to include a few quick moments of shut-eye in the late afternoon.
Getting Into the "Nap" Frame of Mind
Just because you know you should try for quick nap, however, doesn't mean your body will go for it. Time restrictions, stress, and outside noise may make it difficult to catch those few elusive Zs, but there are a few tips you can try to chase them down anyway:
- Regulate your breathing: Properly oxygenating your body is important for sleep to take place. Do a little research on restful breathing techniques to practice in and out of the office.
- Meditate: Meditation helps improve focus and mindfulness, and helps your body prepare for whatever you want to do next -- like nap.
- Aromatherapy: Essential oils such as lavender, lemon or clary sage are linked with relaxation and sleepiness. Invest in a diffuser and keep it on your desk to help induce your lunchtime nap.
The next time you're feeling that midday fade, don't reach for the coffee. Find a quiet place, stretch out and close your eyes instead. You'll feel more alert, more focused and more prepared to face the rest of your day once you've discovered the many hidden secrets of the power nap.