The Art of the Power Nap

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People around the world are sleep-deprived. The Centers for Disease Control reports that around a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. While many of those people don’t sleep enough because of factors out of their control – they do shift work, they have young children, they have a sleep disorder, etc – many of us who could take a nap simply don’t. Maybe we’re worried about being seen as lazy. Maybe we work a job that doesn’t allow for that. However, when that 3 pm workday slump hits me, nothing seems to cure it like a quick nap. I am here to spread the word about the art of the power nap, my friends.

How I do it

I acknowledge that doing freelance work makes it much easier for me to take a quick catnap than for other people. I don’t get a nap every single day, but when I’m feeling tired, I lay down for about 10-20 minutes. This gives my brain a quick refresher and helps me stay alert. I don’t truly fall asleep; it’s just a chance to “shut my brain off”. Any longer than twenty minutes, and I risk actually falling asleep. Who knows when I might wake up then?

I make sure to make myself comfortable, but not too comfortable. I’ve been known to lay right down on the carpeted floor of my office. I don’t worry about shutting off lights, but I turn off music if I’m listening to it. I set a gentle alarm on my phone if I’m concerned that I might really doze off. Then, I just close my eyes and focus on relaxing my whole body in sections. If my mind wanders (and it usually does), so be it, I just bring it back to focusing on something gentle and easy. After my nap, I feel more alert and less groggy.

Statistics back me up

Studies show that a 20-30 minute nap increases alertness (my 10 minute naps are just my personal preference). A nap that lasts 60-90 minutes improves our learning process. There are several companies that have jumped on board the Nap Train (ooh – that should be a real thing…someone invent that) and allow their employees to nap at work. Thirty-four percent of employers, including Google, Zappos, and Ben & Jerry’s, allow time for employees to take a snooze. Many companies even have designated napping areas.

Naps may be better than a cup of coffee for getting through the workday. One study suggests that the best way to increase alertness is to consume caffeine and immediately take a quick nap. Naps can help our learning, regulate our emotions and reduce our risk of coronary art disease. The only downsides to napping seem to happen if you nap too late in the day or for too long, as both options can interfere with a person’s regular sleep schedule.

Catch those zzz’s

The next time you’re feeling sleepy, if you can squeeze in a quick nap, give it a try. You might surprise yourself with how much it helps you get through your day. The art of the power nap might be just the thing you need.

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