Napping is not only for children anymore. Companies such as Google, Uber and Huffington Post, are all encouraging their employees to nap, because they know the power of an afternoon rest. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, concluded that napping (up to 20 minutes) was more effective than extending night-time sleep and caffeine for getting over the afternoon slump in energy. Napping improves mental clarity, energy levels, creativity, productivity and mood.
However, there is an art and a science to napping, and by following these few simple recommendations, you can ensure that your afternoon shut-eye leaves you feel refreshed and rested, rather than groggy and grumpy.
Keep it short
The ideal nap time is around about 20 minutes, so make sure you set a gentle alarm, and get up after 20 minutes - no matter if you’ve fallen asleep fully or not.
If you sleep much longer than the recommended dose of 20 minutes, your body starts to enter into a deeper stage of sleep, and then when you wake up you’re likely to experience “sleep inertia” - feeling groggy and potentially even more tired than when you first lay down. So even if you don’t feel like it, get up after 20 minutes.
Keep it early(ish)
While an after lunch nap is great, make sure you don’t nap too late in the afternoon, as it may interfere with that nights sleep. Research from the University of California, done in 2010, identified that the ideal time to close your eyes is after lunch.
Focus on ‘resting' rather than ‘sleeping’
If you have a hard time falling asleep (i.e., when you close your eyes, your thoughts start wandering and going over your ever-growing to-do list), try guided meditation. Go In Meditations (our guided meditation app) has a range of guided meditations for deep relaxation. Cassandra has a power nap guided meditation on youtube and Spotify, which includes background music with binuaral beats.
Binaural beats work by using two different tones of different frequencies, sent simultaneously to the left and right ears (must be using headphones) - and the brain perceives a third tone based on the mathematical difference between the two frequency. This way binaural beats can help induce states of relaxation quickly.
Cover your eyes
Using something to cover your eyes can block out light and initiate deep relaxation efficiently. Light can be distracting, and if you cover your eyes, you also block the temptation to open your eyes. Eye masks or eye pillows are great but a spare tee-shirt or scarf works well also.
Give yourself permission
"I don’t have the time”
“I think napping = laziness"
Napping can improve your mood, your productivity, increase your alertness, improve your memory, increase your creativity, and basically reset your whole system. So the benefits are immense, and make you a better employee, boss, partner, friend, parent…. so let any feelings of guilt go, and overcome the stigma that napping is synomonous with “lazy” or children.
If you still aren’t convinced, these highly successful and influential people were (are) known nappers:
Leonardo Di Vinci
John F Kennedy
Now go get yourself horizontal. Happy napping.