An Introduction To Power Napping
Do you need to climb into a fancy nap pod to get the benefits of power naps? How long should a power nap last?
In this guide to power napping, we'll talk about what power napping is, why it works, and how to incorporate it into your daily schedule.
The soundtrack to your power nap
These deep, ambient sounds will ease the mind into a short, restful sleep.
Power napping: what is it?
It's a short period of sleep designed to supplement normal sleep and give sleepers an energy boost.
Research shows we need the same kind of rest for adults: 1 in 3 adults are not getting enough sleep. Preschoolers lay down in the afternoon to recharge their minds and bodies.
Is power napping helpful?
Experts advise that we should sleep 7-9 hours a night. But sometimes life gets in the way. We get hooked on a new show and don't realize our bedtime has passed. Our children need us during the night. Work keeps us up late. Anxiety wakes us up and makes it hard to get back to sleep.
A sleep deficit occurs when we get less sleep than we need. Operating on less sleep impairs almost all aspects of body function. It worsens our reaction time, information processing, judgment, patience, and vision. Extensive fatigue can also lead to stress, burnout, and moodiness.
A nap during the day can help us recover from sleep deprivation, reset our systems, restore our energy levels, and improve our performance. It is important to get enough sleep, whether at night or during the day, so we can be more present in the activities that matter to us and with the people, we care about.
Power napping works best if you already have a good sleep routine. If your body doesn't fall asleep easily, you should work on improving that first. If not, taking naps during the day can make falling asleep at night even more difficult. Using sleep meditation, like Sleep by Headspace, you can train your mind to rest. Once you have a good night's sleep, try power napping. Watch Mini-Meditation: Get a Good Night’s Rest - 1 minute
Why are power naps beneficial?
Return to work more focused, present, and productive
You don't have to reach for espresso or chocolate to cope with mid-afternoon fatigue. Since caffeine can decrease memory performance, napping is actually healthier than compensating for tiredness with coffee, according to the Behavioural Brain Research Journal 1. While a latte might give you a boost, it's at the expense of lower-quality work.
Meanwhile, power naps facilitate energy replenishment, memory recall, increased alertness, and mood improvement.
Meditation and power naps both benefit the mind and body. Merely taking a nap is enough to reduce stress, lower your risk of heart disease, and help you concentrate better.
While a power nap is short, it can recharge our minds and help them heal. Quality sleep is more important than quantity.
Try a 3-minute RestD
Get your mind in the right frame of mind by taking a RestD power nap
Getting ready for a RestD power nap
The benefits of power naps on work performance are widely recognized by employers. Many companies offer dedicated nap pods for napping at work.
A good power nap doesn't require fancy equipment. Preschoolers get by with just a dark room and a yoga mat. To make the most of a power nap, consider these aspects of your napping set-up:
The location of your napping space is important. If you don't have a dedicated napping space, find somewhere you won't be disturbed and which has low noise levels. Try a parked car. If you work from home, retreat into your bedroom.
Set an alarm for 20 minutes and make sure you don’t have anything to do right after it goes off.
You should wake up fresh, not groggy, but you should give yourself a few minutes to settle back into work.
Try noise-canceling headphones, earplugs, or sleep music if you can't get away from the noise. You'll get the best rest in a dark environment, so pull down the shades.
As you sleep, our body's temperature naturally drops, so wrap yourself in a blanket or jacket to stay warm.
We should approach a power nap the same way we approach sleep at night to maximize its benefits:
- Begin with a gentle focus and a relaxed attitude
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
- Slow your mind and let your body rest
Use guided meditation to ease yourself into sleep. Listen to soothing sleep music to relax and fall asleep. Or let your mind work on its own.
You may drift off as your thoughts fade and your body relaxes.
Power napping's other benefits
As strange as it sounds, napping is a skill that many of us have forgotten. It takes patience and perseverance to learn to power nap. If you are unable to fall asleep right away or if your alarm goes off and you don't feel like a new person after napping, don't get discouraged. Like meditation, napping is something that gets better with practice. Try again tomorrow.
Let yourself nap with an open mind about how you'll feel afterward. Science tells us power napping has certain benefits, but how you experience them will be unique to your mind and body.
Make your power nap environment as comfortable as possible. Maybe your bed is too comfortable. Maybe your office chair isn't comfortable enough. Modify your routine as needed: switch up the location, position, or time of day of your next power nap.
The Headspace app offers subscribers a suite of sleep-related support, whether you need sleep music to get you started or meditation to get you ready for bedtime. You can wind down your mind and relax your body with a guided meditation or sleep cast. If you aren't yet a subscriber, you can try a week of free Headspace and get a great night's rest (or just a really satisfying power nap).
Simple methods for sleeping
- Listen to relaxing music, sounds, and stories at bedtime to find your perfect routine
- Discover how to get more restful sleep with our Sleep Health course: sleep exercises developed by sleep experts
- With hundreds of stress-relieving meditations available, you'll feel your best from morning to night