The Art of the Power Nap

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The Art of the Power Nap

girl napping

Yes, really. The secret ingredient to the perfect mid-day nap is our old friend coffee. But employed in a way that might surprise you.

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It’s happening already. It’s just after noon on a lazy Saturday that you’d hoped to get a lot done on…but you’re flagging. Slumped down in your seat, you’re fighting off sleep minute by minute, eyes wandering to the sofa or bed. Do you fight it or do you give in?

You should give in, of course. Science has shown that naps not only feel good, but provide benefits in improved recall and creativity, as well as alertness and learning, meaning you should strongly consider including naps in your daily routine.

Problem is, if you give in and take a nap, you might feel groggy afterward for up to an hour, maybe more. So what do you do?

The Coffee Nap

The answer is the good old power nap. A secret of college students and interns the world over, the power nap is a nap under 30 minutes, with or without sleep that’s guaranteed to not only wash away the tiredness, but to do so without the oft resultant post-nap grogginess so many of us tend to suffer after longer naps.

And for the most effective power nap, pregame with caffeine, downing an espresso or strong coffee immediately before laying down to your nap. The coffee takes a while to kick in, and when you rise, you’re ready to go almost immediately.

coffee

The Secret Ingredient

Why It Works

We get drowsy because of a chemical called adenosine, which is a byproduct of brain activity. When our brains have been in action for a while, and thus released a lot of adenosine, the chemical finds its receptors and triggers sleepiness.

Sleep then clears the adenosine, allowing us to wake with more alertness.

Caffeine, it turns out, is not just a stimulant, but also fits into the same receptors as adenosine, and doesn’t trigger the drowsiness response. In effect, coffee’s most important role in keeping us awake is interrupting our brain’s auto shutdown mechanism.

When you preface a power nap with a large, strong coffee, you’re not only clearing adenosine naturally through rest, but also preventing the chemical from finding receptors after you rise. The consequence is greater alertness and better performance on many kinds of tasks.

So next time you start to slow down mid-day, quickly down a cup of Joe and find a spot to relax.

Power Nap Tips From the Staff:

  • Don't waste time fighting the nap. Embrace the nap. It's less than 30 minutes of your day, but we sometimes waste over an hour powering thrugh the tiredness
  • If you're a frequent napper, make an extra cup of coffee early and have it ready to be downed as soon as the need for a nap arises.
  • Don't stress about getting fully to sleep. Scientists say that you can get most of the benefits of a nap just by laying down with your eyes closed.
  • Improve recovery better by doing things that tell your body to wake up, like walking in the sunlight or doing some pushups or body-weight squats.
  • Since it's not important that you get to sleep, consider listening to familiar movies, tv shows, or an audiobook while resting.

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