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Sleep is good! Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough of it regularly (myself included, sometimes.)
Lack of sleep can leave you lethargic, unmotivated, and sap your creativity. It brings productivity to a minimum, and really puts a damper on your day. So, assuming the chance to get a full night’s sleep is already lost, what are we to do? The answer is simple: Power nap.
What’s a power nap, you say? Well, to understand the magic of the power nap, you need to understand (ever so briefly) the phases we go through when we sleep. These are usually separated into four separate stages
- Stage 1: The first 10 minutes after closing your eyes, this is when you start to drift off. Your breathing and brain waves slow down, but your muscles aren’t yet inhibited.
- Stage 2: The next 20 minutes after stage 1. Your heart rate becomes slow, and very regular. Your body temperature and blood pressure decrease, as do your metabolic functions.
- Stage 3: 35-45 minutes after first falling asleep, your brain waves slow down, your muscles become inhibited, and if you are woken up you feel extremely groggy. We spend most of the night in stage 3 sleep.
- Stage 4: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This occurs around 90 minutes after you first fall asleep. This is when you dream, when your brain processes the things that happened to you during the day. Being woken from REM can be extremely disorienting and leave you with serious grogginess. Most REM stages last between ten minutes to an hour, increasing in time with every ninety-minute sleep cycle until you wake up.
Now, while all stages of sleep are essential, when we’re looking to power nap, we want to stay within the first two stages of sleep, and absolutely not enter stage 3 and 4 at any cost. The reason for this is we’re looking to refresh ourselves, and if we hit stage 3 or 4 and try to wake up again, we’ll probably end up feeling more tired than when we laid down.
The Power Nap Method
So, in that case, we want to make sure when we power nap, that we sleep for at least 15 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes! The great news here is that because of this, almost everyone can find time for a power nap during their day. Twenty minutes of rest on your lunch break at work can help you find the energy to get through the day! A twenty minute nap break during studying can help commit knowledge to memory, and refresh your brain for the next subject.
Simply find a quiet area (I’ve used my car, an unused classroom, an out-of-the-way walk-in closet, and others,) dim the lights somehow (I’ve also pulled a hood over my face, or dropped a headband across my eyes,) SET A TIMER FOR YOURSELF (this one is crucial,) and close your eyes. It’s that simple.
But what if I can’t fall asleep that quickly?
Ah, my friend, I am in your boat most of the time. The fact is, I’m a horrendous insomniac, and have a very difficult time falling asleep quickly. There’s two bits of good news for you, though!
First: Even if you DON’T fall asleep, resting in a quiet, dark place for twenty minutes is still fantastic for your brain and energy levels! Stick to your time limit, even if you don’t feel like you fell asleep!
Second: Power napping is, believe it or not, a skill. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. Even better, this will transition into helping you fall asleep at night, as well (if you’re like me and have a hard time with that.) Practice makes perfect!
Rogue Method: The Caffeine Nap!
Finally, here’s the heavy-hitter method. If you’re really drained, then drink a cup of coffee or take a caffeine pill right before taking your nap. It will take your body around 20 minutes to begin metabolizing the caffeine, which means that you’ll wake up feeling like a billion dollars, instead of just a million. Don’t overdo it, though, remember that your body can and will become adjusted to caffeine, decreasing its effectiveness over time. Caffeine withdrawals suck, too (and I’m speaking from experience on that one.)
So that’s it for our powerful friend, the power nap of infinite power. I hope you can find some room in your heart and in your daily schedule for this little guy. You’d be amazed at what he can do!
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you again on Thursday. Live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!