May the force (of a nap) be with you
A short 20-minute nap has more power than all the caffeine you can drink in 20 minutes. Believe it or not? The truth is that the power nap can reset your system, provide a burst of alertness, increase your motor performance and give you that spurt of energy you’ve been searching for. Bet your favorite energy drink can’t do all that – without interfering with your sleep later at night!
But when’s the best time for us to grab all this napping goodness? Experts say the most optimal time for a nap is mid-day between 1 pm and 3 pm. Try to squeeze in a nap after 4 pm and you’ll throw off your nighttime sleep schedule and reduce your sleep quality.
Ready to ask your boss for a scheduled naptime during work hours? If only we could be so lucky.
There are a variety of nap times to choose from that can help your energy and brain function in different ways. According to WebMD, these are the naptime breakdowns:
- 20-minute nap. Good for alertness and motor skills such as typing or playing the piano.
- 30 to 60-minute nap. Good for decision-making skills, like memorizing vocabulary or recalling directions.
- 60 to 90-minute nap. It helps in making new connections in the brain and with solving creative problems.
- Sleep inertia. If you need a quick burst of energy, don’t nap longer than 40 minutes. You may enter a deep sleep, which can leave you feeling drowsy, groggy and generally worse off than before you took a nap.
Determine what you need from your nap and plan how long you want to snooze.
Some people have a hard time taking naps, but following these tips can make it easier to catch a quick snooze when you need it.
- Be consistent. Keep a regular nap schedule to train your body to be ready to nap around the same time every day.
- Make it quick. Set the alarm on your phone for 30 minutes or less so you don’t risk oversleeping and waking up groggy instead of rejuvenated.
- Use music. Create a relaxation playlist to help your mind know it’s time to rest.
- Go dark. Blocking out the light helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Nap in a dark room or wear an eye mask.
- Stay warm. Your body temperature drops while you snooze so be sure to keep blankets nearby to stay cozy.
To drink coffee or to take a nap?
A very difficult question to ponder when you have the whole day in front of you and you really need energy – should you trust coffee to do the job? The experts say taking a short nap is more beneficial than coffee. Caffeine can decrease your brain’s memory performance, gets you more wired than energized and you risk making more mistakes.
If you do feel the need for that extra caffeine boost, take a shot of espresso (or drink a cool cup of coffee) before you lay down for your 20-minute power nap. Coffee takes approx. 20 minutes to travel through your system and can provide a little kick when you’re waking from your nap. Coffee can affect your quality of sleep at night so consider shutting off the coffee stream before 2 pm. Lasting energy comes from a combination of quality sleep and regular napping.
The art of napping gives a whole new meaning to daydreams. Tell us your favorite place to nap – we would love to hear from you!