Need a little pick-me-up? Before you reach for yet another cup of coffee, wait! The key to feeling less tired is to actually do what your body is craving and go to sleep. Believe it or not, a quick nap has more power to pump you back up than drinking caffeine. You may be saying “Sure, that sounds great now...but then I won’t be able to fall asleep later tonight!” This certainly sounds like it would be true, and this is a very commonly-believed myth. The key to mastering the power nap is getting this rest in without interfering with your sleep later at night! In order to do so, follow a few pieces of advice:
#1 Give yourself a 30-minute time limit. The most important aspect of a power nap is not letting it go too long. Unlike nighttime sleep, when you nap, you do not want to get into a deep sleep cycle or REM sleep. Simply set an alarm for about 30-45 minutes from when you lay down. This will give you a few extra minutes to settle down and fall asleep, plus 30 minutes of nap time. That amount of time allows you to rest without the risk of entering into deep sleep and waking up feeling even more tired.
#2 Nap somewhere other than your bed. We know- you love your mattress. We don’t blame you! Particularly if you purchased it from City Mattress, it is the perfect sleep surface for your comfort and support needs. For a nap though, you need to fall asleep somewhere other than your bed. This will help you get the rest you need, without your body falling into too deep of sleep. Opt for your couch or even a lounge chair outside if the weather is nice.
#3 Time it right. Taking a short nap in the middle of the afternoon can give your energy levels a boost, but it’s very important to nap earlier rather than later. You never want to nap after 4 pm, because then it will be nearly impossible to still fall asleep at a reasonable bedtime. You're most likely to fall asleep for a power nap sometime between noon and 2 p.m., because of the low point of your body's circadian cycle.
#4 Try a “nappalatte.” Perhaps you’re really short on sleep and need a lot of energy to make it to tonight. Sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D. offers many great tips on successful napping, including the concept of a “nappalatte.” Quickly drink a cup of coffee and take a short power nap immediately afterwards. The timing is perfect so that the coffee’s caffeine will kick in right after you wake up, leaving you feeling mentally sharp and refreshed!
Of course, a quick power nap isn’t a replacement for a night of quality, deep sleep. However, when your schedule is thrown off by a poor night of sleep the night before, waking up with a baby, traveling, or shift work, it can really benefit you. Think of a nap like a jumpstart for your car’s battery. It won’t last forever, but it can provide enough of a boost to get you back on the road and headed to a mechanic (or in this case, into your cozy bed for a real night of sleep!)