Sleep. We love it, we crave it, we do everything we can to get it, yet somehow it often eludes us. When asked about her beauty routine, Beyoncé said, “having peace, happiness, and healthiness is my definition of beauty. And you can’t have any of that without sleep.” Beyoncé is right to prioritize her sleep. Adults require between 7 and 9 hours of nightly sleep to keep the brain and body functioning correctly. But what happens when life gets in the way? While we don’t want to choose between sleep and grabbing a drink with friends, binge-watching our new favorite show, or even self-care time at the end of a busy day, it’s a choice that we often have to make. Sleep is an essential function. When we get less than 7 hours, we begin to build a sleep deficit. Lack of sleep can lead to stress, burnout, and big mood swings. We know what you’re thinking: I already know that sleep is important and I need to get more of it, I just don’t have the time. Enter the power nap.
What is a Power Nap?
A power nap is a short amount of daytime sleep that replenishes your energy, leaving you with higher alertness and a better mood. Taking a nap during the day helps you to recover from a sleep deficit by resetting your system and topping up your energy levels. Unlike coffee, which can help beat the afternoon slump, but has been proven to decrease memory performance, a short afternoon nap will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to power through the rest of your to-do list. When you nap, you allow your mind to rest and heal, which will open up a more focused, present, and productive you.
Making the Time
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have time to nap during the day. Think again! If you’re reading this, you have the time. Experts say that a power nap should be between 10-30 minutes long. Keeping your nap under 30 minutes will allow you to benefit from the light sleep stage, without the risk of waking up groggy. Everyone’s sleep cycle is unique, so you may have to try different lengths to see what works best for you, but we recommend starting with 20 minutes.
Creating a Nap Schedule
The best time for a power nap is between 1:00-3:00 PM. You’ll want to aim for the middle of your workday, an hour or so after you’ve eaten so that you take your break as your blood sugar levels drop. If you’re working from home, it should be easy to step away from your computer and find a quiet, peaceful place in your home to relax. If you’re going into the office, many buildings have dedicated quiet spaces. You can also try your car or an empty conference room, the key is finding somewhere with low noise levels and no distractions. Lay down or recline if you can, set an alarm for 20 minutes, and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to feel completely relaxed. If you don’t fall asleep the first time you try this, don’t stress! You can use the moment as a meditation. When your alarm goes off, give yourself a few minutes to wake up and stretch a little before going back to your desk. You should feel a rejuvenated sense of energy and inspiration as you wake up ready to tackle the afternoon.
When we have a lot going on, we tend to make sleep the enemy, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make your sleep schedule work for you by adding a daily power nap to your afternoon routine. Making just 20 minutes for yourself during the afternoon will maximize your energy for the rest of the day. As Beyoncé says, when you sleep, peace, happiness, and healthiness will follow.