Sometimes, by the afternoon, I am seriously dragging. I’m tired, I’m unfocused, and I’m just ready to quit. Often, meditating can help. Sometimes, though, I feel like a power nap is warranted. (Although sometimes my meditation turns into a power nap.)
Studies have shown that power naps can be a good way to refresh yourself in the afternoon, and that they can increase productivity and focus. However, you should realize that some habits can make power napping somewhat ineffective and counter-productive. If you are looking for ways to enjoy the most productive power naps, here are some tips to consider:
1. Find a Good Place to Take Your Nap
Ideally, you should find a place where you can get comfortable and relax. Lights should be somewhat dimmed, and you should be able to power nap without interruption. Some workplaces even have napping areas for their employees, since there are numerous studies showing the benefits of a power nap. In some cases, it can help to have soft, relaxing sounds or music playing to help you cancel out distractions.
2. Be Mindful of When You nap
Some studies show that a power nap about eight hours after you wake up is ideal. For many people, this is sometime between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. If you nap too late in the day, you might have trouble falling asleep later, when you want to. If you nap too early, you might not get the same benefits. When you start feeling drowsy and a lack of focus, that might be a good time to stop and take a power nap.
3. Don’t Sleep for Too Long
One of the worst things you can do as you power nap is to sleep too long. Too much sleep can be harmful to your health, and taking a power nap that is too long can cause you more problems as you try to wake up. So how long should a power nap be? If your body is used to meditation or power napping, you will normally wake up after 15 or 20 minutes, when you feel refreshed. In other cases, though, you might need to set an alarm. Most experts agree that 20 minutes is ideal for a power nap. If you nap for more than 30 minutes, you run the risk of slipping into a difficult sleep that is difficult to wake up from. After 30 minutes, the effects of sleep inertia can be severe — and do more harm than good for your afternoon productivity.
4. Consider a Little Exercise When You Get Up
Some people find that a little exercise at the conclusion of a power nap can help them get back into productivity mode. A few jumping jacks, running in place, or even just stretching, can help you get things going again after a power nap. Personally, I like to go through the sun salutation (yoga) after a power nap. I find that a minute of yoga after my power nap or meditation really helps me feel focused and ready for what’s next.
You don’t have to spend hours trying to refresh yourself. Sometimes, all you need is a brief break from your busy day. Interestingly, if you get in the habit of a meditation or power nap each day, you are more likely to deal with stress better in other areas of your life, and more likely to enjoy improved health.