Power naps are supposed to perk you up and give you the second wind you need to get through your day in a better mood. But are you getting the most out of the quick zzz’s you take during your lunch break?
If you want to make the most out of your nap time and be that guy in the office who doesn’t look like a zombie by the end of the day, then you’d better brush up on your power nap strategy to avoid the common mistakes below.
Photo Credit: Cplbasilisk
No wonder Charlie Brown’s always so depressed – he never learned how to power nap!
1. Extended napping – Hitting that snooze button and getting an extra 5 – 10 minutes may work for you in the morning, but when it comes to napping, it is the biggest mistake you can make. Naps are supposed to be just 15 – 30 minutes long for a good reason. This rule was not invented by bosses who wanted their employees back at their desks ASAP, but has been proven by research to be the ideal period for napping. In fact, napping for more than 30 minutes will not give your more energy, but will actually leave you feeling groggier due to sleep inertia. So before you hit the slow wave sleep (SWS) phase where sleep inertia is at its peak, you’d better wake up. You’ll still feel slightly groggy after a 20-minute nap, but you can bet that you’ll be able to shake it off more easily than you would an hour long nap.
2. Resorting to naps only when extremely tired – Napping when you’re extremely tired or sleep deprived is called emergency napping. While taking emergency naps is perfectly acceptable, especially if you’re going to get behind the wheel, it is much better to make a habit out of it. Though this may sound like a good excuse for laziness, proper habitual napping can actually make you more productive since a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance. However, if you only take naps when you’re too tired, you’ll probably end up taking extended naps, which we know by now does not lead to the same energy buzz that short naps give.
Photo Credit: William Brawley
3. Substituting naps for a full night’s rest – While habitual napping can be good for you, relying on power naps alone and not getting enough sleep at night is a major NO. A good night’s rest (or morning’s rest if you work the graveyard shift) is still needed if you want to wake up feeling fresh in the morning and ready to stave off daily stressors. Power naps exist to give you an energy boost and not meant to be your main source of rest, so be kind to your body and learn how to get a better night’s sleep as well.
4. Drinking coffee AFTER your nap – People who need help perking up after their midday nap often drink coffee upon waking. While this will not affect the quality of your nap adversely, you might be surprised the gulping down a cup of coffee BEFORE napping actually works better. This may sound counter-intuitive, but since it takes about 15 – 20 minutes before the effects of caffeine is realized, then ingesting caffeine right before a 20-minute nap is the perfect time to do so. If you take your coffee before you nap and stick to your scheduled nap time, the caffeine will kick in just in time to help you stir yourself from your nap. And in case you’re worried about your ability to wind down before bedtime, there’s really no need to since caffeine usually just stays in your system for 5 – 7 hours. So unless you go to sleep really early, drinking coffee at noon or early in the afternoon shouldn’t make you lose sleep at night.
Photo Credit: Valis Iscariot
Drinking coffee BEFORE taking a nap doubles your energy buzz!