Despite not working full-time right now, Sunday has quickly come back round the corner. Which means I get to write about self-care again! This Sunday, I’ve chosen napping as something to discuss. Often this week, when I’d sit down with my mum for some lunch on the sofa in the conservatory, she’d fall asleep after eating. Which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, she wakes at 5.30am and works up to three jobs every day. She nods off for 10 minutes, then carries on with five times the energy than before. It’s incredible!
My personal experiences with napping aren’t the best. I struggled to sleep through the night as a teenager and would drag myself through the school day. Then coming home at 3pm, I’d collapse on the bed and sometimes sleep until 7 or 8pm. This is an example of where napping doesn’t help, it shifts your routine to become difficult to function properly throughout the day. Yet, napping is seen as a form of self-care as it benefits your health and productiveness throughout the day.
The “Power Nap”
Often termed the ‘power nap’ for the refill of energy you get if you’ve done it right, napping also has many other health benefits. Napping correctly improves cognitive function, benefits heart health, reduces stress and anxiety, fights food cravings AND improves your physical performance! That is a great amount of benefits for simply shutting your eyes! The stress and anxiety reduction is what appeals to me most in particular.
If you’re self employed and are able to implement a nap into your schedule, you will find amazing results. If you work a typical 9-5 rota, it may be more difficult for you to squeeze this into your day, as there is a common misconception that napping is lazy. Still, top and progressive companies with commitment to colleague wellness recognise the benefits of napping. Companies such as Nike and Google are known for introducing napping stations at many work places and encourage colleagues to take appropriate naps. Here’s how you can get it right…
Check your time
Sleeping between 1pm-3pm is considered the optimum period for taking a nap. Alternatively, think around 6-8 hours after you’ve first woken up. If you wake up at 7am then this time frame is ideal. Then, see how much time you have for your nap and plan accordingly. Different lengths of nap can benefit you in different ways.
- 10-15 minutes: Perfect for a quick boost of energy. This nap increases your alertness, stamina and focus. Therefore your productivity soars!
- 20-30 minutes: 26 minutes is best and is often termed the ‘NASA nap’. Proven by scientists to improve their pilot performance by 34% and alertness by 54%, the 26 minute nap is the ultimate power nap. This length also clears the brain of any useless built-up information. Try not to reach 30 minutes or go past this, as it will become increasingly difficult to wake yourself after this time has passed. After a certain period your body will enter deep sleep, yet not experience a full cycle, therefore you will feel groggy when you wake.
- 50-90 minutes: This long nap will raise your memory and satisfy fatigue. Anywhere between 50-80 minutes will have these benefits yet be difficult to wake. If you can handle your slow-wave when you wake up, go for it! Yet sleeping for 90 minutes when you have time gives you a full REM sleep cycle, improving emotional memory and creativity, yet avoiding the sleep inertia.
So why is napping self-care?
Napping is proven to reduce the very anxiety and stress that self-care tries to tackle! Practicing napping a few days a week improves your psychological and emotional wellbeing. You will become more productive, more pleased with yourself and be able to succeed in every challenge that faces you! Creating a comfortable environment removed from distraction restores peace and order when you wake. But don’t forget to set an alarm! Otherwise you may sleep through and will suffer the consequences of it. Another technique to boost your energy is a coffee nap.
Drinking coffee just before you go to sleep is ideal for the 20-minute power nap. As it takes this time for the effects of caffeine to kick in, you will wake feeling the benefits of both sleep and caffeine – the ultimate productivity! Of course, napping is in no way meant to substitute a good nights sleep. Emergency napping to try and top-up sleep lost is not an effective long term plan. Try to nap because you want to, not because you have to. If you are having a productive day with no fatigue issues, there is no reason to nap and your body does not need that extra bit of self-care that particular day.
What do you think of napping? Would you consider trying it on the days you just can’t keep the momentum?