Basic and Advanced Nap Techniques
One that leaves you feeling revitalized and productive afterwards — instead of one where it feels like a truck hit you!
I’ve got five big things to share with you, ranging from basic nap techniques to more advanced stuff and some tools, and even an app that can help you out.
Timing and Duration of Your Nap is Key
For most people, the best nap duration is a 10 to 20 minute nap — the typical power nap.
The reasoning for this has to do with the sleep cycle. Sleep happens in a cycle of about 90 minutes, and it goes through several different stages.
The later stages of the sleep cycle involve slower brain wave activity. If you are awakened during one of these stages, you’re going to experience what’s called sleep inertia — that feeling of grogginess and desire to go right back to sleep. That is not what you want from an afternoon nap.
Now, if you happen to have 90 minutes free in the afternoon, then by all means, get yourself a 90 minute nap, and get a full revolution through that sleep cycle! That’s actually going to provide you with additional benefits that a power nap can’t get you, such as memory consolidation.
I’m guessing that you, like me, and most other people, you don’t have an entire hour and a half in the afternoon to spend napping on a couch.
10 to 20 minutes is going to be the best bang for your buck. You’ll want to take that 10 to 20 minute nap between the hours of 1 to 4 PM.
Why? Before 1 PM you’re probably not going to be very tire. The afternoon energy dip has likely not really hit you yet. More importantly, after 4 PM, if you take a nap, you risk messing with your night’s sleep cycle.
The Best Environment for Power Naps
The best environment for taking a nap is similar to the best environment for going to sleep.
Someplace that’s dark and quiet.
Of course, unless you work from home, you may not have access to a perpetually dark and quiet place.
Keeping a couple of simple tools in your bag can help you out a lot.
Pick up an inexpensive eye mask that can make any place dark.
Get some ear plugs or noise canceling headphones to help shut out the noise.
What If It Takes You A While To Fall Asleep?
The average person takes around 14 minutes to fall asleep at night. Some people definitely take longer.
Given that, wouldn’t a 10 to 20 minute power nap be useless if you’re not going to be able to fall asleep 15 minutes into it?
You can still gain a lot of benefits from napping even if you don’t fall asleep. The act of simply laying down and closing your eyes for a while and just relaxing can help with feelings of fatigue and increase productivity. So get rid of that expectation that you need to actually fall asleep, and you may find it helps you to eventually learn to fall asleep more easily.
Napping is a skill.
When you start out, you may not be able to fall asleep or get into that relaxed state. After a while, you’re going to find it easier and easier to do.