What Is a Power Nap?
Power napping is just sleep, right? So what’s the big deal?
Sleep is a big deal for productivity. It gives us a huge boost of energy, willpower and focus. The problem is that we get only one of those boosts every day – in the morning. Why would you limit yourself like that? With napping, you can get that boost multiple times every day.
However, sleeping haphazardly during the day might leave you waking up groggy and feeling worse than before.
That’s where the power nap comes in. If you only fall asleep for 10-20 minutes, you won’t enter a deep sleep cycle, which is what actually makes you groggy.
And even for 10-20 minutes sleep you can still get that great boost multiple times a day.
How do you do a great power nap?
The power nap has been one of the best tools in my productivity toolbox. And over the years I’ve picked up a few tricks that make it more effective.
If you do the napping during the day, chances are there will be noise. Unless you’re in a Zen monastery, of course, in which case you can stop reading now since you’re as productive as it gets.
But for the rest of us mortals, it might be a little difficult to find a quiet spot during the day. That’s why you should get yourself a pair of plugs and get that Zen-like quiet everywhere you go.
The quality of plugs makes a big difference so choose wisely. The best ones I’ve used so far have been silicone ones from OTOTAP.
Get a Sleeping Mask
Much like the noise, if you sleep during the day you’ll probably be in the light. And if you tried napping before, you know that it’s not nice to get sunlight in your eyes.
Using a mask also has a psychological effect on you and makes you feel more safe and isolated from the world. Therefore, it’s easier to relax and fall asleep.
Again, the quality of the mask makes a big difference. Look for masks that:
- block out light a 100%
- are comfortable to wear (i.e. don’t slice through your eyeballs)
- have a firm hold, so they don’t slide off your head when you turn around
Get a Timer
Don’t rely on your body to wake you up at the right time. It ain’t gonna happen in the beginning.
I got a Samsung Gear S2, and it’s the best timer ever. You can take it anywhere with you, and it takes literally 4 seconds to set a timer.
When the time is up, it vibrates gently without sound so it can wake you up discretely even when you’re in a public place.
Experiment with the nap duration too.
Some people tend to fall asleep pretty quickly, and others need more time. The average duration that works is 10-20 minutes, but don’t accept the average blindly. Experiment with shorter and longer durations and see what works best for you.
Typical Challenges While Napping
I Don’t Have Time to Do It
You might feel like a nap would be a waste of time. Why not put that time napping into productive work and get more done?
Well, time not always translates to doing productive work, especially if you’re tired. The state that you’re in while working makes much more difference in the quality of work that you’re going to do.
So yes, you might “lose” 20 minutes napping, but you’ll be so much more productive after that. You’ll easily make up for that time and then some.
The more time you work, the more diminishing returns you start to get on your productive output. The nap is a great way to reset the diminishing returns.
I Don’t Have a Place to Do It
I know, it’s not easy to do it if you’re not in full control of your work environment. But so what? Are you going to give up just because it ain’t easy? If you’re really committed to getting your snooze time, nobody can stop you.
I still work in an office with many people around and it’s tough finding a good place to nap. But I don’t let that be my excuse.
I often take my lunch break off, go into the parking lot and sleep 20 minutes in my car. Also, I get some shuteye in the bathroom almost every day. Is that weird? Totally! But who cares if it works?
What about non-office work environments?
Working while sipping your coffee at Starbucks? How about picking a comfy armchair, putting on noise canceling earphones, your sunglasses and nodding off for a while?
No matter where you are, you can always figure out a good place to do it. You just need to get a little creative. And if it’s not perfect, don’t let that stop you from doing it anyway.
I Can’t Fall Asleep
In the beginning, it can be challenging to fall asleep in just a few minutes. But just like everything else you can get better at it with practice. It only took me a month of practice when I was first starting out to learn to fall asleep during the day. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
A good trick here is to sleep after you’ve had lunch. After a meal we naturally feel more drowsy, so take advantage of that.
Even if you can’t fall asleep initially and just lay there with your eyes shut, your body and mind are still going to get the benefit of it. You’ll still feel relaxed and refreshed after a few minutes of chilling out.
How Napping Saved My Sanity
Two years ago I committed to an insane amount of work. I was just starting my coaching business, and I was overzealous to get the best launch possible.
As a result, I signed up 100+ clients to coach online simultaneously. It was crazy. I had to do 20-hour work days for two weeks straight. And that was just to cover the basics and get everybody started.
I had to pull through these two weeks with less than 4 hours of sleep a day. Otherwise, the business was going to crash and burn.
In the first few days, it was fine. I worked in 90-minute periods followed by a quick 20-minute snooze. But pretty soon I started to get very burnt out. After each of those 90-minute periods, I felt like I can’t do it any longer. There was no juice left in the tank.
The only thing that kept me sane in those two weeks was the power nap. Every nap felt like a breath of fresh air after being stuck underwater all day. After every nap, I got back some optimism, some energy, and some willpower to keep going.
I don’t recommend that you get yourself in such a mess in the first place, but if someday you do, remember your friend the power nap.
And in a hard time like that, it would be much more effective if you already have some experience with napping and know what to do. Don’t wait until you get yourself in a wreck first. Start now. 🙂