Alright, don’t roll your eyes. It’s officially a thing. And you can blame Daniel Pink for that. In his new book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, he explores the five secrets of taking a perfect nap.
Find your afternoon low point. The best time for a nap is generally about 7 hours after waking (to be more precise, note your afternoon mood and energy levels for a week to find your optimal nap time).
Alright, this varies. A lot! My lowest point is somewhere around 12:30pm (which is like 6-6:30 hours after I wake up) and some time at around 2:30-3pm (8-8:30 hours after I arise). You’ll need to do some tracking to find the optimum timeslot. I know some of my friends who like to take a snooze 45 minutes after they’ve had lunch. Find your sweet spot.
Create a peaceful environment. Turn off your phone notifications. If you’ve got a door, close it. If you’ve got a couch, use it.
I prefer to turn off my phone completely (I know it’s extreme but phones these days have wifi enabled even in the “airplane” mode. Apple’s DND mode was pathetic! It had failed me each time I’d put the phone on DND. And I don’t want to take chances now that I’ve moved to Andriod). I don’t bother with the door in office, I just lay down and people know I’ll get up precisely after 1,800 seconds.
At home, it’s a different story. I turn my phone off, announce that I’m going to take a nap and then shut the door and bolt it from inside. And I prefer a recliner over a bed or a couch (just the couch in the office, though a sleep pod would be so nice… but it’s fancy and I don’t really need it right now).
Down a cup of coffee. Yes, you read that right. The most efficient nap is the “nappuccino”. Caffeine takes about 25 minutes to engage in your bloodstream, so drink up right before you lie down.
I wish I could lay claim to this piece of research as my “original” because I’ve been doing this for ages! Literally! How did I know? I didn’t. I just experimented and found out that having caffeine before a nap refreshes you like anything. Especially when you’re experiencing a mild headache. Try it and thank me later.
Set a timer for 25 minutes. Naps between 10 and 20 minutes measurably boost alertness and mental function without leaving you sleepier than before. When you wake up, the caffeine is beginning to kick in.
Here’s what I do — nap for 20 minutes when I’m in the office. When I’m working from home, I nap for 30 minutes. For obvious reasons. But here’s a thing I do, I put on my headphones and listen to binaural beats (don’t stream them, download them instead). It seriously can enhance the quality of your naps. I can’t imagine napping without this.
Repeat consistently. There’s evidence that habitual nappers get more from their naps than infrequent nappers, so if you have the flexibility, make an afternoon nap a regular ritual.
A short nap is part of my regular routine. I would love to squeeze in two naps but can only make time for one but it does have a great effect on your energy levels and mood. I’ve noticed that it napping in the afternoon makes you a little calmer. You’re less anxious and stressed for the remaining part of the day. And let’s not forget how productive all that will make you…
Isn’t that worth the trade? Come on, it’ll just take you 20 minutes.