If you find yourself dragging around the office in a post-lunch fog, an afternoon power nap can help give your mind and body a much-needed boost. In fact, just 10 to 20 minutes of power napping can significantly increase your ability to focus and function.
Why Power Napping?
Before we get into the best ways to squeeze a power nap into your afternoons at work, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits of the power nap. After waking up from a revitalizing 10- to 20-minute power nap, you’ll most likely enjoy:
- Better ability to concentrate
- Higher levels of alertness
- Improved memory recall
- Lower stress levels
- Increased stamina
- Sharper motor skills
Sounds pretty good, right? Just remember that your goal here is to cash in on the above benefits, not make yourself even more groggy than you were before your afternoon rest. Studies have shown that nappers run the risk of slipping into slow-wave sleep during naps that last longer than 30 minutes, making it harder to wake up and function properly afterward. Be sure to keep your siesta to under half an hour.
Picking Your Napping Place
If you’re anything like most of us, you probably don’t have a designated napping room. Never fear! There are still some excellent options for being able to find a place to cash in on the benefits of an afternoon power nap. Give some of these safe and private locations a try:
: If you have a private office, you’re already way ahead in the power napping program. Just close (and lock, if possible) your office door, dim the lights, turn off your computer, and switch your phone over to “do not disturb” to prevent any interruptions. If you plan to power nap in your office on a regular basis, you might even want to consider stashing a blanket and pillow in your closet or a spare drawer to get the most out of your rest.
: Many office buildings boast a private conference room, and they can be a great place to catch some afternoon shuteye. Just be sure to clear the use with the higher-ups at your workplace and reserve the room in advance to help make sure that you aren’t accidentally interrupted during nap time.
Bookstore or Library
: If you simply don’t have any private space available where you work, you might want to consider visiting a nearby library or bookstore to catch some rest in the afternoon. Taking advantage of the fact that places of reading and learning are always kept quiet is a great way to make sure that you won’t be disturbed while napping, and as a bonus, many bookstores and libraries now have coffee shops where you can enjoy a post-nap caffeine fix.
: Most gyms now provide lounge areas to their members, and these can be a convenient and pleasant place for an afternoon power nap. You can also get some added health benefits with this option if you choose to incorporate a daily workout into your napping schedule.
: Believe it or not, your parked car can actually be an excellent place for a power nap. As long as you’re parked in a safe area, taking a power nap in your company’s parking lot or garage during your coffee or lunch break is a quick and easy option for your afternoon resting session.
: Many malls and nicer department stores are centrally located to areas of business, and also provide comfortable sitting areas for those taking a break from their shopping trips. Just remember that although those couches and chairs are likely to be plush and comfy, the noise level can also be quite high, making this a last-ditch option for most power nappers.
Ditch the Distractions
No matter where you choose to take your power nap, the key to getting the most out of your afternoon rest is to fall asleep quickly. Try following these tips for slipping into your nap ASAP:
Lose the Phone
: Don’t fall into the trap of wasting valuable napping time by getting sucked into your smartphone! Keep it turned off and tucked away to get to sleep faster.
Try White Noise
: Soothing sounds played at the same volume on multiple frequencies have long been proven to help us get to sleep. Cash in on the benefits of white noise while napping by investing in some tracks on your iPod or some sleep sounds CDs.
: Consuming food that’s high in fat, carbs, sugars, or caffeine right before your power nap can work against you by keeping you awake. Try switching to foods high in protein and calcium to help keep you full and satisfied without any stimulating effects.
Nap After Lunch
: Napping after lunch is not only a common practice around the world, it also helps you to fall asleep faster by taking advantage of your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which typically kicks into its sleep phase somewhere around one o’clock in the afternoon.
Stick to a Routine
: Training your body to fall asleep more quickly for your power naps is something that can be done by developing (and sticking to) a napping routine. Be sure to nap in the same place, at the same time, while listening to the same music in order to help send the signals to your body that it’s time to rest and revitalize itself.
Following these power napping tips and tricks will help you to incorporate a rejuvenating rest into your work days, reward you with the benefits of better sleep habits, and give you higher levels of focus and productivity in the second half of your work day. Long live the power nap!