The Power Nap
Power nap: “a short sleep taken during the working day in order to restore one’s mental alertness.”
When you’re running low on energy, whether it be due to a lack of sleep or perhaps you’ve just hit the afternoon wall after a big lunch.
Sitting down to write a paper and finding yourself off track, sluggish and unproductive?
When these situations arise instead of throwing in the towel and quitting for the day there’s a technique you can use that’ll get you back on track surging forward with energy in only 20 minutes.
It’s the power nap.
Power naps, generally 20 minutes in duration or less are a fantastic way to freshen up when your energy reserves are running on empty…
You’ve probably heard a lot of people mutter something along the lines of “Power naps don’t work for me! I always wake up feeling sluggish and worse than before!”
Shortly afterwards I generally find out that they’ve been sleeping for 1 or 2 hours and calling it a ‘power nap’.
In order for a power nap to work you need to do it the right way, here’s how I recommend you power nap.
How To Power Nap Correctly
Find The Right Spot
Power napping in the gym or the middle of the office probably isn’t going to give you the most restful power nap possible.
A chair in a quiet room such as a library, your car, your bed if you’re at home – anywhere that allows you to get into a comfortable position without ruining your posture – slouching over a desk for 20 minutes, waking up feeling slightly more energetic but hurting your shoulder or lower back in the process isn’t a wise move.
If you’re power napping in a common space during the day chances are it isn’t going to be particularly dark – I recommend picking up one of these sleep masks, I found these upon recommendation by Tim Ferriss and they work a treat.
Set An Alarm
Set your alarm for 20 minutes, this should allow you to get 15 minutes of actual restful sleep – just enough to give you that refresh you need to get through the remainder of the day without leaving you with that groggy, tired and restless feeling that we often find when we’re awoken from a deeper stage of sleep.
Don’t rely on yourself to wake up without an alarm at the right time, whether you set one of your phone, watch or a physical alarm is up to you – just ensure your power nap is timed correctly to ensure the benefits you want and not the side effects of waking mid deep sleep cycle.
Eliminate All Distractions
A power nap is only 20 minutes and those 20 minutes should be dedicated to your power nap.
Don’t keep one eye closed and the other on your stock market app, don’t be in a half state of sleep while you consciously await someone to return an email or text message.
Those 20 minutes should be free from any and all distractions, with your phone either off or on silent (if you’re using it as your alarm).
Get Up, Don’t Snooze!
As soon as that alarm sounds it’s time to get back to kicking ass.
Avoid hitting snooze at all costs – with an alarm initially set for 20 minutes you should find yourself getting around 15 minutes of actual sleep – the perfect duration for your power nap.
Not only is a longer nap not beneficial, it’s actually detrimental.
Don’t believe me? Give it a try.
Sleep for 30, 40 or 50 minutes and you’ll wake up feeling worse than went you set out to have your power nap.
Common Power Nap Mistakes (I Used To Make These)
Struggling with your power naps? Here are the 3 mistakes I see being made most often.
Napping For Too Long
As I mentioned earlier, a power nap should be no longer than 15 to 20 minutes.
After a few power naps around the 15 minute mark I thought to myself “If this is how I feel after 15 minutes I can only imagine how great I’ll feel after 30 minutes!”
I can honestly say I felt half as good for having a power nap that was twice the usual duration.
The more is better plane of thought does not apply to power naps.
Not Eliminating Distractions
Having your phone in your pocket while napping will ensure you don’t reach your full 15 – 20 minutes of nap time.
Email notifications, text messages, twitter notifications… even if you don’t reply or acknowledge them the sound of the notification is often enough to either wake you up or prevent you from actually falling asleep.
Choosing The Wrong Place To Power Nap (And Not Actually Napping)
When we’re talking about choosing the wrong spot we’re talking about multiple things that make a spot the wrong place to power nap…
If there’s too many noisy, busy people getting around the area the activity and background noise will ensure you’re not going to get a good power nap.
Choose somewhere quiet and out of the way.
Ergonomics are the other major part of power nap location selection.
Don’t slouch over a desk or choose the wrong chair – your body will remind you after your nap that you made a poor decision!
Supercharge Your Power Nap With Caffeine
Power nap + coffee = caffeine nap
Drinking a coffee (or caffeinated beverage of your choice) and then immediately going to sleep for 15 – 20 minutes, known as a caffeine nap or coffee nap is the ultimate method to increase your energy, overcome writers block and increase your willpower.
Not a coffee drinker? No problems! Choose your energy drink of choice or pop a caffeine pill if you’re not into those either.
Studies performed on the caffeine nap were using a caffeine dosage of 200mg, if you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine you may be able to reap the full benefits of the caffeine nap with a smaller dose, or if you’ve got quite a high tolerance to stimulants like myself a slightly higher dosage may be required.
The key here is to ensure you’re not consuming a large amount of fats or simple carbohydrates when choosing your coffee or energy drink.
You’ll ideally be opting for a black coffee or a sugar free energy drink as the simple carbohydrates (sugar) in sweetened coffee or energy drinks could potentially stop you from falling asleep for your nap.
Check out my full post on the caffeine nap here.