The afternoon slump is real — that sleepy, sluggish feeling you get after lunch. Reaching for another coffee or Red Bull might keep you buzzing into the night, disrupting your sleep and starting the cycle all over again tomorrow. But a quick power nap might be enough to give your brain an energy boost.
How to power nap
As kids, there’s only one kind of nap: the one you refuse to take. But scientifically, there are a few different types of naps for different goals. For most people, a 10–20 minute power nap is just right to feel refreshed. The key is to stay within stage 1 (drifting off) or 2 (powering down) of our sleep cycle. Past that, around 30 minutes, you enter deep sleep and could wake up groggy. Timing is also key. Try to schedule your cat nap before 3PM. Later-in-the-day naps can interfere with your night’s sleep.
If alertness is not your objective, you may decide to opt for a longer rest (but maybe not during a workday). A 60-minute power nap can help improve recall of facts and faces, while a 90-minute nap can benefit creativity and emotional and procedural memory (e.g., learning a new skill).
What are the health benefits of napping?
Without adequate rest, we build up a sleep deficit, which can do more harm than just make us irritable and stressed. It can also impact our vision, judgment, reaction time, performance and information processing. Lack of sleep is also linked to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart disease and stroke.
Power napping not only helps with sleepiness, but also improves cognitive functioning, psychomotor performance, short-term memory and mood. Simply, when done right, napping is good for us.
Tips and tricks to power nap
Napping during the day can be challenging with all of life’s distractions, even if you are struggling to keep your eyes open. First, close your laptop or mute your computer, and put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Find a place that’s quiet, where you won’t be bothered, and get comfy — laying down is best, but a reclining work chair can get the job done, too. Make sure to set your alarm for 10–20 minutes, and don’t snooze.
- For extra relaxation, consider noise-cancelling headphones with some calming music or white noise. Try an app like Pzizz, which provides “dreamscapes” tailored to various portions of our sleep cycle.
- Sleep Cycle Power Nap is another great option, as the app will wake you up before you fall into a deep sleep. You can also choose from ambient sounds like ocean waves and autumn leaves to help you drift off.
How to wake up from a nap
If you do all the right things to effectively nap and still wake up feeling out of it, there are a few things you can do to bring yourself back to the present.
- Take a walk and get some fresh air. Spending time in nature can increase your energy levels.
- Drink a full glass of H20. Dehydration can cause fatigue.
- Eat a banana and/or a spoonful of honey. These natural sugars won’t make you crash again an hour later.
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