Did you know that a power nap reboots the brain and has numerous benefits for our body? A good power nap not only helps improve your productivity but also your overall well-being.
When you don’t get enough sleep at night, it’s easy to try and rely on coffee to help you get through the day. However, caffeine may not always do the trick. Another option is to take a short nap to help you recharge during that afternoon slump. We’ll walk you through the benefits of power naps and how to successfully take one.
What is A Power Nap?
Power naps are short daytime naps lasting anywhere from 10-30 minutes1. They’re called called “power naps” because they’re meant to give you an energy boost if you’re feeling tired and sluggish.
People may take this type of nap if other methods to help them feel alert aren’t working. Power naps are short because they play into the natural sleep cycle, prompting the individual to remain in a lighter sleep and therefore, reduce their risk of waking up groggy.
How To Take A Power Nap
We mentioned above that power naps are short because of sleep cycles. These cycles are divided into four stages. Stages 1 and 2 are a light sleep, Stage 3 is a deep sleep, and Stage 4 is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
The difference between effective naps and ones that leave you groggy comes down to the sleep stage you wake up in. The perfect nap stays in the first two stages. If you wake up disoriented, though, you likely slept so long that you entered into a deep sleep or REM sleep.
Learn More: Different Types of Naps
We’ll walk you through helpful tips to take a successful power nap.
- Keep it short: To take a power nap and not feel groggy, you’ll want to keep it short. According to the Mayo Clinic, 10-20 minutes2 should be a good range to wake up refreshed.
- Nap early: You should also avoid taking a nap after 3:00 p.m.2 because this could interfere with your sleep schedule later that night, which would create a problematic cycle.
- Find a dark, cool, and quiet environment: If you can, try to find a room that’s dark, cool, and quiet3 for napping. These factors will signal your body’s circadian rhythm that it is time for sleep, making it easier for you to doze off quickly.
- Set an alarm: Before you lie down to sleep, be sure to set an alarm so that you avoid oversleeping. As mentioned, the ideal time frame is 10-20 minutes, so set your alarm clock accordingly.
Add Coffee To Your Power Nap
Another way to get the most out of your power naps is to add coffee. Though it seems counterproductive, sipping a cup of coffee before your afternoon snooze could help you wake up more energized.
When you drink a caffeinated beverage, it usually takes about 15 minutes4 before you start feeling the effects. This means that by the time you wake up from a brief nap, the caffeine will start kicking in, allowing you to feel more alert.
Want more tips on coffee naps? How to Take a Coffee (Power) Nap
Are Naps Good For You?
Yes, naps can be good for you. Power napping can be an effective way to wake up and refresh your mind when you’re feeling tired and sluggish. These naps can also have important health benefits5, such as improving learning and memory, preventing stress, boosting mood and creativity, helping jump-start productivity and alertness, and lowering your risk for heart disease.
The Benefits of A Power Nap
- Better Learning and Memory: A quick nap can improve your ability to learn and memorize new skills and information. This is important for people of all ages, including adults and students.
- Prevents Stress: If you’re trying to manage your stress levels, a nap is a helpful fix. Stress can harm your physical and emotional health, which means that finding ways to manage it is vital.
- Boosts Mood and Creativity: Naps can boost your mood and creativity. This can help improve your relationships with family and friends, while also helping you come up with unique ideas in work and school.
- Jump Starts Productivity and Alertness: If you’re struggling to stay focused at work or in school, a nap could help you get back on track. Power naps can allow you to be more productive and alert, which can improve your performance.
Feeling tired during the day is a common issue. If you haven’t found success with keeping yourself up and alert during an afternoon lull, consider taking a power nap. These brief naps can provide benefits that not only improve your mood but also your health, productivity, learning, and performance. So, next time you’re feeling sluggish, try setting aside 20 minutes to lie down and recharge. You may find that power naps are the solution you need.
Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.
Sources and References:
- “Should You Take Power Naps?”. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/power-naps/. 2021.
- “Napping: Do’s and don’ts for healthy adults”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified November 13, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/napping/art-20048319#:~:text=To%20get%20the%20most%20out%20of%20a%20nap%2C%20follow%20these,are%20to%20feel%20groggy%20afterward.
- “Creating a Good Sleep Environment”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified April 1, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/emres/longhourstraining/environment.html.
- “Caffeine: How to Hack It and How to Quit It”. Cleveland Clinic. Last modified December 23, 2020. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15496-caffeine-how-to-hack-it-and-how-to-quit-it#:~:text=The%20effects%20of%20caffeine%20can,is%20still%20in%20your%20body.
- Simon MD, Harvey B. “Sleep helps learning, memory”. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sleep-helps-learning-memory-201202154265. 2012.
- “Heart Disease”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified September 1, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/index.htm.