I love a nap to rejuvenate me for the rest of the day.
Some people don’t believe in napping. Or they’re worried it will keep them from sleeping at night. But most of the world takes a break after lunch for a nap. Some cultures call it a siesta. Or we call it a snooze, a respite, 40 winks.
It makes sense to nap after lunch because that’s when we have a natural dip in our daily circadian rhythm. Eating lots of carbohydrates for lunch will magnify that drowsiness. That’s probably why you crave a cup of coffee or a sweet treat in the early afternoon to get through the rest of your workday. But what your body could really use is a nap.
Benefits of napping
Taking a nap can restore alertness, enhance performance and reduce mistakes and accidents. What a relaxing way to improve your mood, too. People who nap regularly retain more information and can recover better from burnout or brain overload. Naps also boost creativity, reduce stress, improve perception, stamina, motor skills and accuracy, enhance your sex life, aid in weight loss and reduce the risk of heart attack.
Typing out all those benefits made me both tired and excited to take a nap.
Famous nappers include Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush.
Three types of naps
The power nap: A quick, 20-minute snooze.
During the power nap you will fall into the first two stages of sleep. But you won’t have enough time to enter stage 3, or deep sleep. Give yourself about 30 minutes for this nap because it usually takes 10 or so minutes to actually fall asleep. The power nap is perfect after lunch, in the middle of your workday, when you need to focus for the rest of the afternoon.
The restorative nap: You’ll enter deep sleep during this 60- to 90-minute slumber.
You want to give yourself time to wake up naturally. If you don’t you’ll wake up groggy and disoriented because your deep sleep has been interrupted. The restorative nap is great for when you didn’t get enough shut-eye the night before and you need to catch up. Though napping isn’t a good substitute for continually missing sleep at night, it can make a dent in your sleep deprivation.
The coffee nap: a short sleep following a cup ’o joe.
To take this kind of nap you want to drink a cup of coffee as quickly as you can (It helps if it’s lukewarm instead of steaming hot), then lie down for 30 minutes and take a power nap. It takes your body about 30 minutes to process the caffeine. So it should kick in right about when you wake up. The coffee nap works well when you know you have to be alert and focused after your nap. If you feel drowsy while driving or you have a big presentation in the afternoon, drink a cup of coffee, take a short nap and wake up raring to go.
It may take a bit of experimenting to figure out how napping works best for you. After insomnia during pregnancy and then having a baby, I have my napping routine down pat. I can easily take a short nap in the early afternoon while my son is snoozing and wake up naturally after about 30 minutes feeling rejuvenated.
Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or a pastry after lunch, listen to your body and take a nap. You’ll feel better and be more productive the rest of the day. You may even sleep better at night.
“A day without a nap is like a cupcake without frosting.” — Terri Guillemets