7 Habits of Highly Effective Nappers

Deconstructing the fine art of napping

When’s the last time you indulged in an afternoon nap? Too busy, you say? Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, JFK and John D. Rockefeller were all dedicated nappers – every day. If these busy, highly accomplished men can make time for a nap, why can’t you?

Although most of us hang our hat on our ability to function normally on very little sleep, there’s strong research to support the humble nap. One study from California studied the relationship between naps and workers for 25 years and say 92.5% of workers increased productivity, creativity and problem-solving skills after a short afternoon nap.

Coffee might be quicker, but napping comes more naturally.

Our internal clocks are programed to slow down twice in a 24-hour period. We feel naturally sleepy when it’s dark outside but the mid-afternoon slump is natural too. Trouble is, most of us fight the afternoon nap with mega-doses of caffeine rather than surrendering to it, even though 20 minutes of sleep can energize us for the remainder of the day.

If you’re considering swapping out caffeine for an afternoon quickie, follow these 7 habits for making the most of your naptime.

7 highly effective nap habits

1.    Give yourself permission

This is the first and most important step in a successful nap. Understand that your work will never be done and that a nap will help you be more productive and creative. Allow your mind this time to rest so you can finish your day strong.

2.    Choose your nap spot

Suss out an over-sized chair, comfortable sofa in a cool, dark room – or even your own bed. Also known as napnomic devices, the cushion and blanket you choose are equally important. If you’re napping at work, find a spot where you can relax and not worry about being jarred awake.

3.    Drink a cup of cool coffee

It might sound strange to drink coffee before sleep but there’s a simple explanation. It takes approximately 20 minutes for caffeine to travel from your stomach to your blood stream – the perfect nap length. A cup of coffee before you lie down gives your mind time rest before the caffeine begins blazing its trail. Great way to beat the after-nap groggies, right?

4.    Consider timing

Although most research suggests that an afternoon nap won’t interfere with nighttime sleep, the later in the afternoon you nap, the bigger the risk. Schedule your nap early in the afternoon, when you’re naturally groggy.

5.    Set an alarm

Most people wake up naturally after a nap but if you’re sleep-deprived, you might need to train your body to wake up at a scheduled time. Use your smartphone to set a gentle wake-up call rather than a blaring alarm. If you’re so exhausted that a loud alarm is necessary, you might want to look at your overall sleep strategy

6.    Give yourself time to wake up

If you’ve enjoyed a coffee beforehand, your nap hangover should be minimal – but it’s still a good idea to inch back into your day rather than jumping headfirst into it. Enjoy a big glass of water and stretch out your muscles.

7.    Plan tomorrow’s nap

Even successful nappers often miss this step. Only you can carve out napping opportunities in your day – and the only way to do that is it to plan ahead. Even if you decide not to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in the afternoon, you’ll appreciate the breathing room you’ve carved out.

Ready to practice the fine art of napping? We’d love to hear how it works for you and if you have any additional tips. Happy napping! 

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This blog was originally published on Restonic.com and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on Restonic.com. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.