Let’s face it: people love their sleep. Unfortunately, things often have a mean habit of getting in the way of it, whether it be work, a family, or a myriad of other activities. With that in mind, many people opt to take shorter naps throughout the day to get much needed rest.

These so-called “power naps” may be popular, but there are still some interesting facts that people may not be aware of when it comes to proper napping technique. Don’t worry, we’ve constructed a handy guide of the do’s and don’ts to help make sleep deprivation a thing of the past.

Don’t Sleep for Too Long
They’re called power naps for a reason, primarily because they’re supposed to be short and powerful. In fact, researchers have discovered that when individuals “nap” for longer than thirty minutes, they are substantially more likely to wake up feeling worse than when they went to sleep. To help avoid this, it’s a common tactic amongst power nappers to set their alarm for between fifteen and twenty minutes. This is the ideal window to wake up feeling more refreshed and energetic and get back to work again.

Have a Cup of Coffee Before Taking a Nap
This is one of the great secrets of power napping. For those in desperate need of a caffeine boost, it’s a good idea to drink a cup of coffee right before taking a nap.

Thanks to the way the body digests caffeine, it won’t actually come into effect until roughly twenty minutes after consumption. For those following along, twenty minutes is the goal that most people aim for in their power naps. Also, drinking coffee before a nap is only used by people that need to get more work done when they wake up. Therefore, having coffee before every power nap does not work if the idea is just to relieve the stress after a long day at work.

Don’t Substitute Actual Sleep for Afternoon Naps
For those suffering from insomnia (or anyone, for that matter), it’s generally not a good idea to substitute a goodnight’s sleep for naps. Not only does it make more difficult to fall asleep at night, but taking short naps during the day can also affect the body’s REM cycle.

A good rule of thumb is dreaming: if you’re dreaming, then odds are you’re taking a nap when you shouldn’t be.

Don’t Come Unprepared
If you’re trying to take a power nap at work, it’s often a good idea to prepare some sort of napping kit to help make the transition easier. Items most often brought by power nappers include an alarm clock, an eye mask, and earplugs to block out any troubling noises.

No one wants to attempt a power nap only to have their co-workers keep them awake the entire time.

Do Some Research and Explore Alternatives
This is especially true for those that get tired immediately after a heavy lunch. As it turns out, the body can actually benefit greater from not napping, and instead absorbing the sun’s rays outside. If you find yourself constantly fatigued after eating lunch, it might be worth taking a 10-15 minute walk out in the sun in lieu of power napping.

As exciting and fun as power napping may be, it’s important to remember these handy tips as it takes the efficiency of power napping to a whole new level. Research suggests that taking regular breaks from work makes you more productive. After all, as different as we all are, at least we can all agree on one thing: everyone loves a good power nap.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Michelle Holincheck, FNP