I am a connoisseur of naps. Especially in this season, when the days are dark and gloomy and we start to feel like we have less energy, a nap can help recharge your batteries so you can make it through the rest of the day.
And if you feel like you have no time for a good, quality nap, think again! While I personally would (and could!) nap for several hours straight if things like my job and The Hubby didn’t prevent that, all you really need is a good power nap to freshen you up and make you feel ready to jump back into the day.
Here are my tips to make the most of a power nap. (If you want to learn how to sleep for several hours straight, my first advice would be to not have a job or a significant other to keep poking you and saying thing slike, “It’s been two hours, Em! Time to rise and shine already!”)
Power napping 101
- Find a place where you won’t be interrupted. If you’re at home, go into the bedroom and shut the door. Let your family know not to disturb you. If you’re at work, close your office door and put up a sign saying “In a meeting. Please do not disturb.” (People are much more likely to respect the all-important meeting than a nap. Believe me, they will interrupt a nap because they don’t think it’s “important.”) If you don’t have an office door to close, go out to your car.
- Make it nice and comfortable. Put your feet up, grab a pillow, don’t just sprawl out in your stiff desk chair thinking it will work. If you’re in your car, recline the seat, have a nice travel neck pillow on hand, and adjust the temps so you’re warm or cool enough. The more comfortable you are, the quicker you’ll fall asleep…and the less likely you’ll be to have a crick in the neck when you wake up!
- Make it nice and dark. Turn off the lights, lose the blinds or curtains, or buy one of those eye masks to keep the sunlight from disturbing you.
- Make it nice and quiet. Turn off all sounds on your phone except for your alarm. If you’re napping in the work parking lot or your bedroom faces a busy street and you’re easily distracted, invest in a pair of comfy ear plugs. Or, if soothing background noise helps you, you can play something like nature sounds or relaxing music to drown out the real world.
- Clear your mind. Do not start thinking about that presentation you have to give when you get back to work or that annoying thing your friend said to you that morning. Focus instead on your head on the pillow, the nice music you’re listening to, and other physical sensations to Zen yourself into a quieter mindset. If your thoughts start to wander to stressful things, just keep bringing them back.
- Set your alarm for 15 minutes. (Make sure it’s extra loud if you’ve got ear plugs in!) 15 minutes is the ideal time for a power nap. Any shorter, and you won’t feel really rested…any longer, and you risk feeling groggier when you wake up than you did before you napped.
Note: You’re going to want to actually be sleeping for 15 minutes straight, and unless you’re exhausted, you probably won’t fall asleep as soon as you lay your head down. You can try measuring how long it normally takes you fall asleep, but that’s not exactly easy, so I’ve read that setting your alarm for 25 minutes gives most people the time they need to fall asleep and then get the recommended 15 minutes.
- Refresh yourself when your 15 minutes are up. Stretch, do a few jumping jacks, go to the bathroom and splash some cool water on your face. I’ve actually read in several places that drinking a cup of coffee right before you nap can help because by the time the caffeine actually kicks in, you’ll be waking up and it will give you an extra jolt of energy and focus. (I’ve tried it…it does work!)
- If you can’t fall asleep… Sometimes even if you’re super-tired, a nap just won’t happen. Maybe your mind is too wound up, maybe your body is too wound up…who knows. But don’t scrap the nap! Keep your eyes closed and just enjoy the feeling of being still and calm and having nothing else to do for those 15 minutes. Do a little meditation if that’s your thing, or just think calming, happy thoughts. It can still help you return to your day feeling more positive and refreshed.
Do you power nap? Have I missed any good tricks?