Prepping For Your Power Nap
We all love to take a power nap during the day, but only a few are aware that power nap actually reboots the brain and has numerous benefits for our body.
Seriously, a good power nap not only helps improve your productivity but also your overall well-being.
It’s no secret that most of us are chronically underslept. We don’t get enough rest and then we buy an energy drink or down a ton of coffee to make up for it.
Instead, we should all be taking short naps.
Power Naps Are (So) Good For You!
A power nap is magical. It’s the most effective way to wake up and refresh your mind when you’re feeling tired and sluggish.
Research has shown that a power sleep is much better than no nap as it enhances the cognitive abilities and alertness, and provides important health benefits.
A power nap improves learning and memory, prevents stress, boosts mood and creativity, helps jump start productivity and alertness, and even significantly lowers blood pressure and helps lower your risk for heart disease.
What Makes A Good Power Nap?
Not all power rests are created equally. There are times when you take a short nap during a busy work day and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to greet the world.
Other times, not so much- you take a power sleep and wake up feeling disoriented, groggy, and even more exhausted.
The difference between a refreshing nap and an exhausting nap comes down to timing.
Stages of Sleep
The quality of your power nap comes down to the sleep cycle. The sleep cycle is divided into four stages.
In stage one, we’re in a light rest- that weird state between being awake and asleep.
In stage two, we detach from our surroundings and real sleep kicks in- breathing and heart rate are regular and our body drops.
Then, stages three and four are deep rest, wherein your breathing really slows down, your muscles are relaxed, and you enter rapid eye movement sleep. Rapid eye movement happens about ninety minutes after you sleep.
Don’t Pass Stage Two
The difference between an awesome nap and a terrible one comes down to which stage of sleep you’re waking up in.
The perfect nap stays in stages one and two. Deep sleep of stages three and four are should be avoided at nap time. They disrupt your circadian rhythm, which basically leads your body to feel like it’s a different time than it really is. It’s actually a lot like jet lag.
The perfect nap stays in stages one and two.
Once in stage three, your brain is going to hate the idea of getting up, and you’re going to feel groggy when you do.
To stay in stages one and two, take a power nap that is twenty to forty minutes long, depending on how long it takes you personally to relax enough to fall asleep.
Any longer than forty minutes- just don’t do it. Don’t go there unless you have a full ninety minutes to spare.
With ninety minutes, you can at least get through the sleep cycle once and your brain won’t be as disoriented when you wake up.
Planning The Perfect Power Nap
Napping during the day can pose some unique challenges.
Here are some tips to make your nap time more comfortable and effective.
If you do the napping during the day, chances are there will be noise. Unless you’re in a Zen monastery, of course, in which case you can stop reading now since you’re as productive as it gets.
But for the rest of us mortals, it might be a little difficult to find a quiet spot during the day. That’s why you should get yourself a pair of plugs and get that Zen-like quiet everywhere you go.
The quality of plugs makes a big difference so choose wisely.
I like this set of two washable silicone earplugs from Loyps:
They’re made of comfortable soft silicone, and designed with a shape that adjusts to your ear (and won’t pop out as you move).
These earplugs are hypoallergenic and economical; just give them a quick wash before reuse.
The manufacturer also offers an unconditional refund or replacement if you’re not satisfied.
At the time of publication, these earplugs have a perfect rating from reviewers.
Use a Sleeping Mask
Much like the noise, if you sleep during the day you’ll probably be in the light. And if you tried napping before, you know that it’s not nice to get sunlight in your eyes.
Using a mask also has a psychological effect on you and makes you feel more safe and isolated from the world. so it’s easier to relax and fall asleep.
Again, the quality of the mask makes a big difference. Look for masks that:
- block out light a 100%
- are comfortable to wear (i.e. don’t slice through your eyeballs)
- have a firm hold, so they don’t slide off your head when you turn around
The Sonvera Sleep Mask is an extremely soft, comfortable (and breathable) choice.
It’s easy to adjust and contoured to shape your face, so there’s no pressure on your eyes.
The Sonvera comes with a set of silicone ear plugs, and has excellent reviews.
Consider a White Noise Machine
Daytime naps often mean dealing with daytime noise. A white noise machine can effectively mask irritating noise and help you drift into peaceful slumber without the aggravation and distraction of daytime noise pollution.
This White Noise Machine from Gakov delivers fantastic sound.
You can choose from nine soothing natural sounds: ocean, thunder, soothing music, white noise, wind, brook, summer night, rain, and relax.
The reviews for this unit are uniformly excellent.
Consider Taking a Natural Relaxant
Sometimes, it just feels impossible to just let everything go and just relax. This is when you should consider taking something natural to help you feel calm (without leaving you drowsy or lethargic).
I’ve been impressed with Tranquil Mind from Banyan Botanicals.
Tranquil Mind is a balanced blend of western and traditional Ayurvedic herbs to buffer the nervous system and the mind against stress or anxiety.
It includes stress-soothing herbs like bhringaraj, brahmi, and ashwagandha to stabilize scattered thoughts and calm the nervous system. Skullcap, passionflower, and chamomile help to keep anxiety and nervousness at bay while still allowing you to focus.
Banyan Botanicals uses USDA certified organic herbs that are sustainably sourced and fairly traded, and all their products are third party tested.
They also offer a full refund if you’re not satisfied. User reviews are very good for this product.
Another option is to have a cup of calming tea before your nap. A good one to try is Honey Lavender Stress Relief Soothing Blend by Yogi Tea.
Set a Timer
Don’t rely on your body to wake you up at the right time.
Experiment with the nap duration too.
Some people tend to fall asleep pretty quickly, and others need more time.
The average duration that works is 10–20 minutes, but don’t accept the average blindly. Experiment with shorter and longer durations and see what works best for you.
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