A pro-napping attitude, and a bit of nap know-how helps if you want to give napping a chance in your life.
Effortless, sweat free and cost free, napping seems to be the easy answer to fatigue.
Research shows that a nap as brief as ten minutes can improve your mood and productivity, alleviate tiredness, increase alertness and even reduce errors made at work.
But it’s not so easy for some. Apart from obvious workplace restrictions many people have an inner boss that just won’t let them stop for anything, let alone a snooze.
Learn how to Stop. If you can’t stop, you can’t nap, so the first step towards increasing your nap-ability, is learning how to stop and value doing nothing for a while.
“Stopping is about doing nothing in order to gain everything.” – David Kuntz author of the book Stopping.
Give yourself permission. You can practice a pro-napping attitude anytime the afternoon slump hits when it’s obvious that you’ll perform better after a quick kip. Remind yourself that taking a few minutes out to restore your energy and focus is not lazy but a very smart practice as high performers such as Churchill, Napoleon and musician Brahams knew.
Find a nap nook, where you won’t be interrupted. If you are away from home, or aren’t employed in a nap-friendly workplace, consider a park on a warm day or your car. You may need some napping aids, such as a cloth or mat to put on the floor, a light blanket, small pillow, ear-plugs and an alarm. Eye masks really help as blocking out light helps induce sleepy hormones.
Prepare your body-mind. Take a few big yawns and make sure you are really comfortable. Gently close your eyes as though you were going to sleep. Simply notice your body breathing. As you exhale let your thoughts go and trust there will be plenty of time for thinking later.
Timing is important. Nap for longer than 30 minutes and you risk experiencing sleep inertia, which can leave you feeling temporarily more tired and groggy. So keep longer naps for weekends when you have time to re-emerge slowly. While you can nap at any time, after lunch is usually the easiest time to drop off as it coincides with the natural down-turn in our circadian rhythms.
Practice makes perfect. If you want to make napping a part of your life, don’t leave it to chance. Countercultural norms and attitudes are too just too strong. As when forming other healthy habits, repetition is needed to ingrain new neural pathways. So try putting yourself into a ‘practice napping’ phase where you schedule a certain number of naps per week.