Many of us experience that afternoon dip in energy; you know, the one that hits you sometime between one and three o clock. Luckily there’s an easy alternative to curb that crash that involves taking a catnap instead of reaching for another caffeinated beverage.
Research shows that naps improve our brain’s day-to-day performance. Naps reduce sleepiness, increase alertness, and improve reaction time, coordination, logical reasoning, memory consolidation, symbol recognition, mood, and emotion regulation. Healthy adults who take naps regularly enjoy brighter spirits, find it easier to learn and remember. And are less sensitive to negative emotions like fear and anger.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 30 minutes or less of catnapping can “restore alertness, enhance performance and boost mood and cognitive performance.” A 20-minute nap appears to hit the sweet spot, giving you the right amount of time that allows your body to power down and reboot. Be careful with napping too long; longer naps aren’t recommended because you fall into a deeper sleep, making it difficult to awaken feeling refreshed.
Some businesses have caught on because of the benefits. NASA pilots take in-flight naps as short as 26 minutes to enhance performance and alertness by 34% and a 16% increase in reaction time. More companies encourage employees to take power naps during the workday, like Nike and Thrive Global, Inc. provide unique rooms with specially designed chairs to catch some ZZ’s.
Powernap like a pro
Here are ways to get the most out of your next power nap, whether you are back in an office or working from home.
Pick your time and duration.
Most experts recommend napping at the same time every day to train your body to fall asleep at that time. Aim to rest sometime between 1 and 3 pm when most of us experience a natural energy dip.
Set your Alarm
Don’t oversleep! Set your alarm for 15 to 20 minutes to enjoy increased alertness upon waking up.
Create a Nap Space
Creating a sleep-inducing environment will increase the odds that you catch some restorative ZZZs. Make sure the room is quiet, as dark as possible, and relatively cool if you’re able. Research shows that cool, dark, and noise-free environments are most conducive to sleep.
Try a ‘Coffee Nap’
Sounds counterintuitive, right? Experts say to drink a coffee, set your alarm for 20 minutes, and sneak in your nap; the coffee will have time to start working while you sleep and give you a double shot of energy when you wake up. It takes about 20 minutes for caffeine to absorb into the body and work.
Though generally beneficial, napping isn’t for everyone. Poor sleepers who have difficulty falling and staying asleep at night might want to avoid daytime snoozing. For everyone else, though, a 20-minute mid-afternoon nap could be the secret to feeling sharp, productive, and happy throughout the day.