Ever noticed how lack of sleep makes you stupid?
When we try to catch some Z's during the daytime, we are at best branded as sleepyheads and at worst, as lazy bums with a lousy attitude.
But that's just not fair.
As it turns out, some of the most productive men in history took catnaps.
And they were not ashamed to be "found asleep at the switch."
Lyndon B. Johnson, the man who passed some of the most ambitious legislative agenda, worked like a dog but knew the restorative power of a good nap. Which is why every afternoon he donned his pajamas and dozed off for 30 minutes or so. He'd then continue working, sometimes until 1 or 2 in the morning.
Winston Churchill napped for at least an hour a day. And he was confident that it was this small but effective habit that helped him lead Britain through World War II.
Napoleon Bonaparte barely slept at night, preferring to pore over maps and contemplate strategies instead. But then he'd nod off right before a battle, the cannons booming nearby serving as a handy alarm clock.
None of these three men were degenerates with a lack of ambition.
Which can mean only one thing:
Power naps could be the holy grail of success.
Do you want to learn how to power nap?Then keep reading!
POWER NAPPING IS NOT JUST FOR LAZY BUMS
More than 85 percent of mammals are polyphasic sleepers, which is just a fancy way of saying that they nap throughout the day.
Humans, on the other hand, are monophasic, meaning that they sleep only once a day.
But here’s the interesting thing:
No one knows whether humans are naturally predisposed to sleep just once a day or whether it’s just something that has become the societal norm over the decades.
If mammals nap, and young children and old people nap, perhaps we should all take a nap now and again?
Basically, it’s napping for 10 to 30 minutes in the middle of the day.
Essentially you want to:
Take all the benefits of sleeping and condense them.
To understand how power napping works you need to understand the four stages of sleep:
Stage 3: Deep sleep
What happens? Your body repairs and re-grows tissues. Some people might sleepwalk or sleep talk during this stage.
Dreaming stage which you enter around 90 minutes after you fall asleep
What happens? Intense dreams occur. Being woken at this stage leaves you feeling groggy and sleepy.
When you take a quick catnap in the middle of the day, you are only entering Stage 2 of sleep.
By knowing how to power nap you:
The sleep researcher Sara Mednick says that six-minute naps improve our ability to recall facts, 10 to 20-minute naps boost our alertness and 60-minute naps help us remember facts, faces, and places.
Then there’s also the 90-minute nap. It’s a full sleep cycle, and it helps with creativity as well as emotional and procedural memory.
But who has time for one of those, right?
Curiously enough, naps can be broken down into four types:
Taking a nap even before you get sleepy.
Taking a nap when you’re so sleepy that you are finding it hard to function.
Taking a nap at the same time every day.
Napping because you enjoy it!
NASA PILOTS KNOW HOW TO POWER NAP, AND YOU SHOULD TOO
One of the most significant benefits of knowing how to power nap is improving your alertness and productivity.
In fact: Power naps are NASA approved!
One study found that NASA pilots that were allowed to take a 26-minute nap each day not only improved their performance by 34 percent but also improved their alertness by 54 percent!
Power naps also improve memory, enhance learning ability and boost creativity.
In addition, regular naps reduce blood pressure.
And get this:
Habitual nappers are much less likely to die of heart disease than those who skip naps altogether.
Furthermore, power naps relieve stress, boost the immune system and elevate your mood.
So, if you feel like setting the whole world on fire: Take a nap!
POWER NAPS 101
Knowing how to power nap could save your day.
If at all possible, you want to take a nap in a room that is:
Can’t control your environment?
Consider investing in a sleep mask, purchasing a good set of earplugs or downloading a white noise app.
Finally: avoid disruptions by putting your phone on flight mode.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Timing is everything when it comes to nailing power naps.
What's the magic number?
NASA pilots saw a sharp improvement in their performance after a 26-minute nap.
Which means that:
A 26-minute nap is a sweet spot for a nap.
But that’s very specific.
And it might not suit everyone.
A nap that is anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes long will do wonders for your health and productivity levels.
Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING WHETHER YOU'RE A MORNING LARK OR A NIGHT OWL
It seems pretty obvious but:
Not all hours of the day are suitable for a power nap.
Indeed, the best time to take a nap is somewhere between 1 pm and 3 pm.
That’s not only when your body temperature drops but also when your body sees an increase in the levels of melatonin, a sleep hormone.
But there’s more to it than that:
The ideal time to nap depends on whether you’re a morning person or a night owl.
If you’re a morning person (meaning that you get up around 6 am and go to bed around 9 pm), you should take a nap at around 1 pm.
If the thought of going to bed at 9 pm makes you LOL, you might want to take your nap at around 2.30 pm or even 3 pm.
So, now you know that your post-lunch slump has nothing to do with the sandwiches that you eat!
YOUR SLEEPING POSITION MATTERS
It’ll take you twice as long to fall asleep sitting up than it would if you were lying down.
SCIENCE-BACKED WAYS THAT WILL HELP YOU FALL ASLEEP
You’ve cleared your schedule, and you’ve made yourself cozy.
You’ve even put your phone on airplane mode.
But try as you might, you can’t fall asleep.
That’s actually good.
If you conk out right after your head hits the pillow, it’s a sign that you are battling serious exhaustion.
Still, when most of us take a nap, we expect to cop some Z's. And not being able to do so can be incredibly frustrating.
This is where science-backed methods for falling asleep come in handy.
Try the following things:
Watch the video below to learn more:
Don't worry. Even if you can’t drift off, keep your eyes shut. Your brain will recharge even if you can't fall asleep.
DON'T WANT TO FEEL GROGGY? THEN DON'T SNOOZE!
What’s the one thing that we all do when our alarm goes off?
Snooze, of course!
As such, it’s a good idea to put your phone or alarm clock as far away from you as possible.
As such, it’s a good idea to put your phone or alarm clock as far away from you as possible. The other side of the room is ideal.
When your alarm goes off, it’s best to get out of bed immediately.
Don’t think about it. Just do it.
If you stay in bed, you might drift off again. The second time around you might wake up with sleep inertia, which will do you more harm than good
If you do feel groggy when you get out of bed:
If all else fails: Go back to bed and complete the full sleep cycle.
COFFEE VS. NAPS
But what about coffee? I hear you ask.
Surely a shot of espresso is the same as a power nap, only more convenient and tasty?
Not at all: Coffee and other stimulants such as energy drinks are short-lived.
A power nap, on the other hand, will provide you with at least two to three hours of alertness.
Caffeine has been shown to impair declarative verbal memory and motor sequence learning.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have coffee in the afternoon.
You just have to be smart about it.
Which brings us to coffee naps.
COFFEE NAPS ARE POWER NAPS 2.0
Drinking coffee right before taking a nap is a recipe for disaster, right?
Drinking a cup of coffee and then taking a quick nap is more effective than just drinking coffee or just taking a nap.
Don’t forget: It takes your body a while to feel the effects of caffeine which means that your nap is not going to be affected if you drink a cup of joe right before it.
Watch the video below to learn more:
Taking a coffee nap couldn’t be easier.
Simply drink your coffee (200 milligrams or a 12-ounce cup is ideal) as quickly as possible (try an espresso or iced coffee if you are struggling to gulp down a massive Americano) and then hit the sack.
You’ll want to make sure that your alarm is set to go off in 15 to 20 minutes. That way you’ll stop yourself from entering the deeper stages of sleep and wake up just in time to reap the benefits of caffeine hitting your brain!
One last thing to keep in mind:
Take your coffee nap more than six hours before you go to sleep. Otherwise, your nighttime sleep could take a hit.
LONG NAPS = PREMATURE DEATH
Naps improve productivity, reduce blood pressure and relieve stress.
But that doesn’t mean that there are no adverse effects.
One of the most common drawbacks of taking a nap in the middle of the day?
If you snooze your alarm and end up sleeping for more than 20 minutes, you will feel disoriented, groggy and even more tired than you did before you took a nap (unless of course, you complete the full sleep cycle).
You’re likely to find it difficult to perform even the simplest of tasks which renders your nap... well, pointless.
In addition, if you nap longer than planned, or if you nap late in the day, you are likely to mess up your regular sleep pattern.
Long naps are also linked to high blood pressure, obesity, cholesterol, depression, coronary heart disease, and cancer.
HOW TO: SNEAK IN A NAP AT WORK
If that’s the case then: Congratulations! We’re all very jealous.
However, if your company is lagging behind the times (and unfortunately, most are):
We’re here to help.
Fitting in a very much needed nap at work is easier than you think!
You might have heard of the Japanese practice of "inemuri." "Inemuri" is nothing more than snoozing in front of other people - on the job, in the subway, waiting in line at the supermarket... It means "being present while asleep" and is a sign of diligence. Hands up all those who suddenly want to move to Japan.
TAKE A SIESTA IN YOUR OFFICE
This one’s a no-brainer. If you have an office, go ahead and use it! If you want to be really comfy, you can stash a fuzzy blanket and a pillow in your desk drawer for all those emergency naps you’ll be taking. Bonus points if you have a sofa. As for napping underneath your desk... We advise you against it.
It's easy, and best of all, the chances of getting caught are pretty slim.
You have to have your own office.
SNOOZING IN AN OPEN-PLAN OFFICE IS POSSIBLE TOO
You’re not completely screwed if you work in an open-plan office.
You can still nap.
It just takes a bit more planning. And balls. The best way to go about it?
Put one hand on the side of your head to cover your eyes from view and keep your other hand on your computer mouse.
Bonus tip: Wear sunglasses! Tell your co-workers that your eyes are tired today or that you couldn’t find your prescription glasses and as such you had to grab your prescription sunglasses.
You won't have to look for other hideout spots so you'll save time.
You might get caught in which case prepare to be the butt of jokes forever.
RESERVE A CONFERENCE ROOM FOR ONE
If at all possible, reserve the smallest conference room available and leave a note outside the door that says “Meeting in Progress.” Sit close to the door. That way, if anyone enters the conference room, you’ll wake up immediately.
The risk of getting caught is somewhat high.
ATTEND A “MEETING” OUTSIDE THE OFFICE
Are you a marketing executive or someone else who takes plenty of meetings outside the office? Then you can pop over to the nearest cafe or book store and conk out for 10 minutes or so while you pretend to read the paper.
Bonus tip: Avoid cushy chairs with low backs for they can be very uncomfortable.
You can refuel on coffee right after your nap.
This will only work if you have regular meetings outside the office.
FIND AN UNUSED STORAGE CLOSET
Most offices have an unused storage closet. They’re small and full of dusty Christmas decorations and progress reports from yesteryear. No one ever goes there – unless they have sneaky motives of their own - so you’re bound to be pretty safe.
Spider webs in your hair and dust on your fancy work clothes.
REST IN YOUR CAR OR TAKE A RIDE ON THE BUS OR THE SUBWAY
If you have a car - use it! Just don't forget to park it as far away from the office as possible. If you don't own a car, you can always take a ride on the bus or the subway.
Napping in your car is easy and comfortable. Napping on the bus or the subway also has its advantages. For example, you’ll probably fall asleep quickly, lulled by the rocking motion of the traveling vehicle.
The main disadvantage of sleeping on public transport is the high chance of waking up without your wallet/ iPod/ keys. You've been warned!
TAKE 10 IN YOUR LOCAL PARK
If your workplace is near a decent park, consider yourself lucky! Simply find a comfortable looking bench or a patch of grass with no ants and take 10.
Bonus tip: Put on your headphones or your sunglasses, and it will look like you’re tanning. No one is going to see past this deception, especially if it’s a beautiful, sunny day.
Fresh air and maybe even sunshine.
Grass stains on your clothes if you can’t find a suitable bench.
A SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE INSOMNIACS
By now we’ve established that knowing how to power nap is close to having a superpower.
But are power naps right for YOU?
Well, that depends.
You should take a power nap if you:
If you’re an insomniac, or if you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, you should avoid power naps like the plague.
Because daytime naps could make you feel like you need less sleep at night, thus worsening your condition.
A simple way to know whether you should be napping or not:
If you find yourself dreaming during your catnap, it could be a sign that you are sleep deprived. So go ahead and make that power nap a habit.
A NAP A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY
So it makes sense that one in three Americans nap during the day.
And if Lyndon B. Johnson, Winston Churchill, and Napoleon Bonaparte all did it...
Well then hey, that can mean only one thing:
You’re in good company.