Our last blog post touted the benefits of taking a nap and gave suggestions for how long your power nap should last. While a quick 15 minute siesta can do great things for your body and mind, making it happen in the real world sometimes takes a little creative thinking. Here are some ideas for making your ultimate daytime nap happen, even when it seems impossible.
Find Peace & Quiet
To nap like a pro, you need to treat yourself like a two year old at day care.
You need a calm, quiet place, ideally with enough room to lie down uninterrupted, where your body has permission to shut down for a few minutes. Where that will be is up to you and your circumstances. Color outside the lines if necessary. If you work during the day, a parked car, office you can lock, or even the space under your desk might do the trick. Some people instantly relax and can fall asleep outside. If weather permits, grab a blanket, find a shady spot and relax.
Set The Mood & An Alarm
If you are able, dedicate a time (again, during that afternoon energy slump is ideal) so you can get into a routine that allows you to fall asleep quickly.
After that, it’s all about the ambiance. Lower the lights to the extent you can (close the shades or the sunroof, invest in a windshield blocker or wear an eye mask) and set an alarm so your boss doesn’t come looking for you 2 hours later. If you are not sure how long to snooze, check our previous post for suggestions.
The Art of the Car Nap
Sometimes, it’s just not going to happen in your place of work. In this instance, your automobile can be your safe haven for sleep. If you are napping in your car, take a few extra precautions:
- For quiet’s sake, park in a lonely spot away from the ebb and flow of traffic: if its far away, you will also earn bonus exercise credit trekking the distance to and from your car.
- If you’re lucky enough to be a mini van owner, crawl into the back seat, lie down and get comfy.
- Only have two seats? You can still make it work: recline your seat and put up a windshield blocker to fulfill a dual role: block light and deter nosey peeps from peering inside the car to see what you’re doing. That can get awkward.
- If you are too self-conscious parking near work (or people), leave. Find a nearby park (better for finding shade – especially if its hot outside – and don’t forget to crack open the windows), trail head or edge of a giant parking lot where you might find solitude.
Let It Be Lavish
Whether you are napping in an office, on a park bench, in a car, or under tree, wherever you end up, make it an experience. Let yourself do things you wouldn’t normally do at work to signal to your body a change in mental and physical direction.
- Kick off your shoes and wiggle your toes.
- Pull out the lavender scented eye mask you keep stashed in the glove box.
- Grab the fluffy pillow you keep under your desk.
- Pull a blanket up under your chin.
- Take a few deep breaths before you nod off to calm your nervous system.
- Have a glass of warm milk if it helps.
How can the next minutes not feel luxurious?
It’s Not An Excuse To Skimp On Real Sleep
Be warned though – naps don’t make you invincible and they are not a substitute for real continuous sleep. They are not a crutch that allows you to stay up all night like some nocturnal animal. Think of napping as an extra bonus when you need a lift:
- Up all night? Recover from a sleep-deprived night spent with small children.
- Got a big presentation or sales demo coming up? Catching some zzz’s before hand could increase chances of a successful performance.
- Jet lagged? Naps may help you get your groove back after taking a red-eye flight for business.
- Trying to solve a problem and getting no where? See if a little nap refresh provides some insight or inspiration.
A good power nap will give you a short-term boost and get you through that marathon work-day or big presentation but there is no substitute for regular, good old fashioned 8 hours of sleep. Deep sleep attained consistently night after night should still be your priority and number one goal.