As explained elsewhere on this site, sleep is essential to everyday function. But even after a full night of sleep, it is easy to reach a point of fatigue at some point in your day. Enter a power nap. How do you avoid waking up more sluggish than before your nap? The following tips will teach you how to take a successful power nap, making the most of your time while reaping all the benefits sleep has to offer.
1. Schedule for the afternoon
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Afternoon is the best time to take a power nap. If you have some flexibility in your schedule that allows you to choose when you take a nap, you will want to lay down at some point from 1pm-3 pm. Lying down too early can be ineffective as your body may not be tired enough for more sleep. And lying down too late could negatively influence your normal nightly sleep cycle.
2. Limit between 20-30 minutes
After setting aside time for a power nap between 1pm and 3pm, you should only allow yourself to rest for about 20 to 30 minutes. By extended your rest any longer, you start to enter a sleep cycle and will wake up feeling more tired than before. Staying in this range will provide the perfect supplement to your nightly sleep, particularly if you did not get enough the night before. You will awake feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your day.
3. Set an alarm
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In order to keep yourself accountable to the 30 minute power nap limit, set an alarm. Not only will you be more likely to stick to the suggested amount of time, but you will have a more restful nap because you do not have to worry about self-regulation; you can fall asleep quicker and do not have to frequently check your clock.
4. Drink a cup of coffee
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Even though coffee would seem to prevent someone from taking a successful power nap, it helps you to feel more energized once your alarm goes off. You should drink a cup of coffee right before you lie down. Since the caffeine requires about 20 minutes to start affecting the body, it will kick in around the time you awake from your nap. The coffee will encourage you to arise from your slumber and feel energized enough to go about the rest of your day.
5. Watch what you eat
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While you may benefit from drinking a cup of coffee before your power nap, you should otherwise avoid eating food that is difficult to digest beforehand. The body struggles to digest dairy items, grains, and spicy foods, among other things, which could prevent you from falling asleep.
6. Grab a blanket
Even if you are comfortable at the moment you lie down, make sure you have a blanket at least within reach. Your body temperature decreases while sleeping, so you should prepare for such changes by either adjusting the room temperature or covering up. A soft blanket can also increase your comfort level, inducing sleep more quickly and making the experience all the more enjoyable.
7. Find a dark, quiet place
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Aside from maintaining a warm enough temperature, you should also work to create a positive power napping-environment by finding a dark, quiet place to rest. If multiple options are available, be selective in terms of your location as it is essential to the quality of your power nap. Make the room as dark as possible by drawing blinds, closing doors, or wearing an eye mask. In order to reduce noise, retreat to a place with little to no human distraction, turn off music/television, and insert ear plugs. Do not settle for a less than comfortable location; fully commit to your power nap by finding an environment which facilitates, rather than inhibits, your rest.
8. Enjoy your power nap!
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The final step to a successful power nap is to enjoy it. You should not feel guilty for setting aside half-an-hour of your day to recharge. To make the most of your time, try to calm your mind. Reduce your thoughts; avoid worrying about upcoming tasks or yesterday’s regrets. Clearing you mind induces sleep more quickly, ensuring that you receive the full 20-30 minutes of rest and all the consequential benefits.
In the end, you will have to test out these tips for yourself. Implement these into your power naps to determine which are helpful and eliminate those which are not. No matter what, make sleep a priority and use these tips in order to feel energized, rather than sluggish, after your power naps.