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When All You Can Do Is Power Nap…Here is the ‘Know How’

A quick power nap can help combat drowsiness and increase productivity. Naps can boost alertness and improve motor performance, reduce sleep deprived irritability (if you’re suffering restless nights), lower tension, and can be a wiser choice than that mid arvo espresso.
Dali, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher were all fans of an afternoon nap, putting an end to any stigma that napping is reserved for the lazy. Einstein claimed he needed a 10 hour sleep at night, plus a daytime sleep to fuel his incredible brain, and Churchill believed it helped him get twice as much done each day!
However, we all know that a mid day sleep can be a risk if you don’t wake well….sometime you feel groggier and less refreshed than when you started your nap. So what are the best practices to leverage a short time of rest in your bed?
Young girl napping in tutu
The definition of a siesta is ‘an afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate’ so it makes sense to learn that the ideal time for a nap is between 1-4pm. The exact time though, would depend on what time you wake and go to bed. Napping too late in the day could interfere with falling asleep at night. However if you haven’t woken up until 9am, you probably won’t need to nap until closer to 3pm.
napping outside
Another factor, and possibly an even more important one for determining how rested and refreshed you feel, is the length of your nap. For example, it’s highly likely that an hour nap could leave you feeling sleepier than a 10 min nap. Studies have tested a range of nap times, but for most people, 10-20 minutes is all you need to get the benefits of napping.

10-20 min nap - a power nap of this length keeps you in the lighter stages of non-REM sleep, making it easier for you to get up charging. You may need to set an alarm to ensure you don’t snooze for too long.
30 min nap clock 30 nap - you’ll hit the deeper stages of sleep, where your brain waves start to slow down, which may cause sleep inertia, that groggy feeling where you actually less alert (for about 30 min post nap) than before.
60 min nap clock 60 min nap - while you still may feel some grogginess upon waking (since you’re woken from some slow wave sleep) this nap length is actually best for improvement in remembering facts.
90 min nap clock 90 min nap - if you nap for this long, you’ve had one full cycle of sleep (including lighter, deeper and REM stages of sleep). It is usually easier to wake up at this time and avoid sleep inertia. It could also lead to improved procedural and emotional memory and creativity.
kids sleeping in bed
Some place nice and warm would make your nap a proper ‘siesta’, but we’re not all so lucky. Fortunately, you don’t need to be in Spain or on a beach in Mexico to enjoy a siesta. A dark, quiet place will do the trick, but equally, a parked car, (or in the passenger seat of a moving car) on a train, under a desk or on a couch are all suitable ‘happy napping spots’, including your beloved bed. An eye mask or ear plugs may help tune out disruptions, but make sure you can hear your alarm in order to time your nap right. To avoid a deep sleep, it may be best to remain upright also.
woman looking out of plane window
Keep in mind, napping may not work for everyone and some people are better off just trying to get adequate sleep at night time with a regularly scheduled bed time. If you have insomnia, or just struggle getting off to sleep at night, napping is not recommended at all. And then there’s the fact that most work places are just not nap friendly at all! N.B. we do not suggest discretely crawling under your work desk à la George Costanza!

Other interesting nap facts & ideas:
  • It is suggested that a person who dreams during a short nap is likely to be sleep-deprived.
  • People who exercised (vigorous exercise) were more likely to nap than those who hadn’t.
  • Try a ‘napalatte’, or short caffeine nap, for maximum rejuvenation. Drink a cup of coffee and take a 20-minute nap immediately afterwards. The caffeine takes about 20 min to kick in, so should coincide with waking time leaving you feeling mentally sharp and refreshed.


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