Today’s a perfect day for a nap, don’t you agree? Too busy, you say? Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, JFK and John D. Rockefeller were all dedicated nappers – every day. If these busy, highly accomplished men can make time for a nap, why can’t you?
You might hang your hat on your ability to function normally on very little sleep but there’s strong research to support the humble nap. One study from California studied the relationship between naps and workers for 25 years. They found 92.5% of workers increased productivity, creativity and problem-solving skills after a short afternoon nap.
Coffee might be quicker, but napping comes more naturally.
Our internal clocks are programed to slow down twice in a 24-hour period. We feel naturally sleepy when it’s dark outside but the mid-afternoon slump is natural too. Trouble is, most of us fight the afternoon nap with mega-doses of caffeine rather than surrendering to it, even though 20 minutes of sleep can energize us for the remainder of the day.
If you’re considering swapping out caffeine for an afternoon quickie, today’s the perfect day to start! Follow these 7 habits for making the most of your naptime. Sweet dreams!
1. Give yourself permission
This is the first and most important step in a successful nap. Understand that your work will never be done and that a nap will help you be more productive and creative. Allow your mind this time to rest so you can finish your day strong.
2. Choose your nap spot
Suss out an over-sized chair, comfortable sofa in a cool, dark room – or even your own bed. Also known as napnomic devices, the cushion and blanket you choose are equally important. If you’re napping at work, find a spot where you can relax and not worry about being jarred awake.
3. Drink a cup of cool coffee
It might sound strange to drink coffee before sleep but there’s a simple explanation. It takes approximately 20 minutes for caffeine to travel from your stomach to your blood stream – the perfect nap length. A cup of coffee before you lie down gives your mind time rest before the caffeine begins blazing its trail. Great way to beat the after-nap groggies, right?
4. Consider timing
Although most research suggests that an afternoon nap won’t interfere with nighttime sleep, the later in the afternoon you nap, the bigger the risk. Schedule your nap early in the afternoon, when you’re naturally groggy.
5. Set an alarm
Most people wake up naturally after a nap but if you’re sleep-deprived, you might need to train your body to wake up at a scheduled time. Use your smartphone to set a gentle wake-up call rather than a blaring alarm. If you’re so exhausted that a loud alarm is necessary, you might want to look at your overall sleep strategy…
6. Give yourself time to wake up
If you’ve enjoyed a coffee beforehand, your nap hangover should be minimal – but it’s still a good idea to inch back into your day rather than jumping headfirst into it. Enjoy a big glass of water and stretch out your muscles.
7. Plan tomorrow’s nap
Even successful nappers often miss this step. Only you can carve out napping opportunities in your day – and the only way to do that is it to plan ahead. Even if you decide not to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in the afternoon, you’ll appreciate the breathing room you’ve carved out.
Ready to practice the fine art of napping? We’d love to hear how it works for you and if you have any additional tips. Happy napping!
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