“I’m just going to close my eyes for a second.” We’ve all uttered those words at one point or another in the middle of a busy or trying day. For many, a midday nap is considered a guilty pleasure – something we sneak in when no one is looking. But power naps can come with health benefits that go beyond just getting a little noon-time shut eye.
The Benefits of a Power Nap
First, it’s worth noting that a short, intentional power nap is different from the heartier, extended laydowns we enjoyed as kids or the three-hour siestas that define a Spanish afternoon. Think a 20-minute sleep sprint versus a long, lazy hammock session. Power naps have shown a variety of benefits in improving overall mental health and work performance throughout the day. They can increase creativity and enhance your problem-solving. Wake up to an elevated mood and reduced stress level, stronger memory and brain function, increased work productivity, and of course, reduced fatigue. In short, power naps inject your afternoon with a power boost that can help ensure you’re making the most of your daylight hours. Of course, there are some parameters to power napping that help you maximize the effort without sleeping too long and falling into post nap hangover territory.
Choose your healthy journey to receive the information you want to reach your goals.
Aspen Valley Hospital has a wealth of classes, events and workshops to educate and empower our extraordinary community as we reach the summit together.
How to Take the Perfect Power Nap
Carve out 15 – 20 minutes.
To gain the most from your power nap and wake up feeling refreshed instead of groggy, set an alarm for 15 – 20 minutes. This allows for a few minutes of stage two sleep, which can be restorative for your mind and body. If you feel you need more, shoot for 90 minutes, which typically allows your body a full sleep cycle. Of course, 20 minutes is much more realistic than 90 for most mid-day routines.
Create a cozy environment.
Draw the blinds, turn on the calming music or sound machine, and set the temperature to 65 – 70 degrees. Creating a space that is conducive to sleep helps condition your body to shut down quickly and maximize your 15 – 20 minute snooze window.
Stick to a power nap schedule.
Aim to nap at the same time every day. Your body will learn to fall asleep easier with repetition. Choose a time that is convenient without disrupting your nighttime sleep schedule. Shortly after lunch or between 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. is ideal. Avoid power napping any later than four to five hours before bed time.
Consider some caffeine.
Drinking a little caffeinated tea or coffee just before you get some shut eye can be a helpful strategy. Caffeine typically takes 20 – 30 minutes to take effect, so the coffee/power nap combo can provide a great one-two energy power punch to your afternoon.
Setting aside some time to rest and restore your mind and body is a very healthy practice. Sleep is elemental to our wellbeing and productivity. Even if you’re not a big napper, simply taking 15 – 20 minutes every afternoon to put your feet up, relax or quiet your mind gives you the relaxation you deserve. Establish that power nap schedule and environment. Set the alarm and tuck in!