6 Expert-Approved Steps to Mastering the Best Power Nap
If you’re feeling exhausted and constantly reaching for coffee throughout the day, a power nap might be the answer to all your woes. A quality afternoon snooze is one of the best ways to leave you feeling refreshed and energised enough to take on any challenge the day throws at you.
In fact, studies have proven several benefits of a nap - a NASA study showed it can boost your alertness by 54 per cent and productivity by 34 per cent. It also allows you to catch up on sleep debt without altering your sleep schedule.
Unfortunately, many people nap incorrectly, which only leaves them waking up feeling groggier and more fatigued. If you can relate (or you’re a regular napper who wants to improve their skills) here are six steps to mastering the ultimate power nap so you can enjoy a more productive day.
6 Expert Steps for the Best Nap Ever
1. It’s not for everyone
Ok, we know we just rambled on about how good napping is, but the truth is it’s not for everyone. If you’re a Dolphin chronotype, you should avoid it as you probably already have an irregular sleep schedule. Or, if you suffer from insomnia, power napping might not be the most ideal idea as it can confuse your body clock and disrupt your already dysfunctional routine.
A nap too long will lull you into deep sleep mode and leave you feeling groggy afterward, while a nap too short is well, not enough. So, what’s the perfect length? The same NASA study concluded 26-minutes was the perfect length of a nap as it allows you to transition from Stage 1 sleep (the ‘drifting off’ feeling) to Stage 2 (when your brain activity slows down).
“This ensures you stay in a light sleep stage and avoid the risk of sleep inertia, which is that groggy feeling upon waking,” sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo tells Bed Threads Journal.
3. Schedule your nap
Arezzolo says you must nap at least six hours before bed. So, sometime after lunch and before 3pm - when you’re experiencing that post-lunch crash - would be an ideal time.
“This allows your body to build up sufficient sleep-promoting hormone adensoine. Like melatonin, adenosine encourages us to feel tired and crave sleep," Arezzolo notes.
"Naturally building up when we are awake, adenosine dissipates when we are asleep. So, if you take a nap too close to bedtime, chances are, you’ll find it hard to fall asleep as your body doesn’t have a sufficient amount of adenosine to feel sleepy.” And nobody wants to restlessly lie awake staring at the ceiling come nighttime.
4. Set up a napping zone
Finding the perfect place to nap is just as important as the duration and time. Choose a nice dark place as even a touch of light can decrease melatonin (your sleep hormone) and stimulate cortisol instead. “Studies show a dim interior light can impair melatonin synthesis by 50 per cent, which leaves you with an un-refreshing, un-restorative nap,” Arezzolo notes. If you can’t find a completely dark room, invest in an eye mask to block out light.
While lying down is the best way to nap, a reclining chair of some sort can do the job. And finally, noise-cancelling earphones will help keep out intrusive noises.
5. Perfect the ‘dozing off’ stage
Now you’ve established the duration, place and time for the perfect power nap, it’s important you set yourself up for success so you can actually doze off. The key is to eliminate as many distractions as possible so, log off from your computer, turn off your phone (unless you’ve set your alarm on here - and in that case, turn off your phone’s notifications) and if you’re in an office setting or you’re at home and you live with other people, let them know to not disturb you for the next 30 minutes.
6. Drink a pre-nap coffee (yes, really)
According to Arezzolo, “research shows you’re less tired, mentally sharper and make fewer mistakes when you drink a coffee before napping, compared to if you just napped alone.” Confused? It takes between 20 and 45 minutes for coffee to kick in so if you drink a coffee just before napping you’ll wake up feeling extra alert. Hey, guess you can’t diss it until you try it?