The afternoon nap—a cherished and under-appreciated art form. If you feel like you could use a little pick-me-up in the afternoon, then you might be better off reaching for the pillow rather than a coffee. While coffee can temporarily boost energy levels, it only puts a post-it note over the fuel gauge and if consumed in the afternoon, can negatively affect your sleep at night. But a short afternoon nap is a secret weapon for enhanced productivity and overall wellbeing.
“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.” Winston Churchill
The Benefits of Power Napping
Napping has been shown to have a number of benefits, including:
Improves alertness and performance. A short nap, typically 20-30 minutes, can help improve alertness and performance. Numerous studies have shown that a well-timed nap can significantly boost your cognitive function, memory retention, and creativity levels. In fact, a NASA study found that a mere 26-minute nap increased pilots' alertness by a whopping 54%.
Boosts creativity and problem-solving skills. Napping can also help boost creativity and problem-solving skills. A recent study found that participants who took a nap were better able to come up with creative solutions to problems than those who did not nap.
Improves mood. Napping can also help improve mood. A study published in the journal "Sleep Medicine" found that participants who took a nap reported feeling less tired and more alert than those who did not nap. They also reported feeling happier and more positive.
Reduces stress. Napping can also help reduce stress. Participants who took a nap in a recent study had lower levels of stress hormones than those who didn’t nap. They also reported feeling less stressed and more relaxed.
May improve heart health. Some studies have shown that napping may also improve heart health. A study found that people who took naps were less likely to develop heart disease than those who did not nap.
It is important to note that napping is not a substitute for getting a good night's sleep. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. However, napping can be a helpful way to improve alertness and performance during the day, especially if you are sleep-deprived.
“I think napping is one of the greatest inventions of all time” Tom Hanks
How to Take the Perfect Afternoon Nap
If you're thinking about taking an afternoon nap, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most out of it:
Set a timer. The key to the perfect power nap lies in its brevity. Aim to nap for 15-30 minutes (26 minutes is the sweet spot according to NASA). Don’t nap for any longer than 30 minutes as you’ll enter deeper sleep which will make you feel groggy.
Don’t nap too late in the day. Timing is everything. Aim to take your nap approximately 6 to 8 hours after waking up, so usually no later than 3pm. This timeframe aligns with your body's natural circadian rhythm and helps prevent interference with your nighttime sleep.
Quiet, dark and cool surroundings. This ambience will help you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Don't hit the snooze button. Don’t sleep longer than 30 minutes. Waking up naturally will help you to feel refreshed and alert.
Want to supercharge your nap?Try a coffee nap. Which is drinking a coffee and then immediately going for a short nap. It takes 20-30 minutes for caffeine to kick in, which means it’s perfect timing for when you wake to get an extra boost.
What’s a coffee nap?
A coffee nap might sound counterintuitive. But it can be super helpful if you need a big boost in energy, for example after a broken nights’ sleep. Caffeine takes about 30 minutes to kick in. So if you drink a coffee and then immediately take a nap you will wake up just as the affects of caffeine kick in. Double-whammy for when you really need it.
Is Napping Good for You?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes! Naps have been shown to have a number of benefits for both adults and children. In fact, a study by the National Sleep Foundation found that napping can improve alertness, cognitive function, and mood. Additionally, napping has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
So, if you're feeling tired in the afternoon, don't be afraid to take a nap. Just be sure to keep it short (10-20 minutes) and avoid napping too close to bedtime.
In a world that glorifies busyness and burnout, taking an afternoon nap may seem counterintuitive. However, science, experts, and countless successful individuals have embraced the power of a well-timed siesta. By incorporating a brief afternoon nap into your routine, you'll unlock a wellspring of productivity, creativity, and overall happiness.
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