Some people swear by them, but do power naps work? The short answer to this is yes. And no.
By and large experts agree that a power nap taken in the mid afternoon can be restorative and give you a boost of energy for the remainder of the day. There is some debate about how long this nap should be as too long a sleep will leave you feeling more groggy than before.
Tips on how to make it work
There are a few things you can do to make your power nap work:
Keep it short
The optimal time for a power nap seems to be between 20 and 30 minutes. It helps for you to set an alarm so you aren’t worrying about not waking up. Too long a sleep will make you feel worse.
Find the right spot
Find a spot where you can relax enough to fall asleep. A quiet office is ideal but few people have their own offices in the modern work place. Perhaps a small boardroom can work? A popular choice is to sleep in your car, with the seat back, in a quiet part of the car park.
Take it at a good time in the afternoon
The early afternoon around 2pm seems to be when most people get an energy slump. Don’t take your nap too late as it will then interfere with your night time sleep.
Play some music or white noise
Soft music can help you sleep, or white noise like the sound of rain. Pop your earphones in, put on your eyemask, and drift away for a while.
But is the power nap the answer?
The need for an afternoon power nap is most often the result of too little night time sleep. Experts believe that it is better to be getting the proper amount of sleep at night.
Many people are suffering from a chronic shortage of sleep, and they don’t even recognise it. There are some signs that you may be sleep deprived. For example you need a mid-afternoon power nap! Another is that you fall asleep almost instantly when you go to bed at night.
Being busy is the norm and many people believe having 6 hours of sleep a night is sufficient. This means burning the candle at both ends, and living by the mantra “sleep when you’re dead”.
In reality, however, the body needs about 8 hours of sleep a night. This also allows you to enter a proper dream state which is the time when the laying down of memory and the organisation of the brain occurs.
So, do power naps work? Yes, especially if you are sleep deprived. But they don’t address the real problem which is your sleep deficit.
Get a good night’s sleep
First prize is to get better sleep at night. You can improve your sleep in a number of ways like:
- have a regular bed time
- have a calm, uncluttered bedroom
- keep the temperature of your room between 15 and 19 degrees
- put your devices and electronics away at least an hour before bedtime
- have a night time routine to signal to your body it’s time to sleep
- make sure your room is dark, with as little light as possible
- get a comfortable bed and pillow
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