Do Mid-Afternoon Power Naps Actually Work?

Last week I learnt that a 15-20 minute nap between the hours of 1pm and 3pm could cure your afternoon slowness. Still sceptical, I thought I’d put it to the test and see if it really made a difference. Here’s what I discovered.

Images by Karol M. and PSDGraphics.

I was feeling a little sluggish and scatterbrained yesterday afternoon, so I decided to give this timed power nap idea a shot. Working at home offers the distinct advantage of walking down the hall to the bedroom to take a nap, so this was pretty simple. I decided not to set a timer, because I didn’t know how long it would take me to fall asleep and I never sleep long if I’m paranoid about waking up late. It took me about 15-20 minutes to just fall asleep, and then I woke up about 15 minutes later not entirely sure that I fell asleep in the first place.

While the entire process definitely took much longer than intended, I got the right amount of sleep and actually felt pretty refreshed afterwards. It was hard to get up because I felt really good, but once I did I was able to get right back to work and think much more clearly. The task I’d set out for myself — creating an image for Whitson’s feature — proved to be much easier. At night I was still sufficiently tired when I normally am and so the nap didn’t throw off my sleep patterns.

While my very unscientific test yielded positive results, I’d recommend allotting more than 15-20 minutes for your nap. I’d at least double the time to help yourself fall asleep and use that number if you’re setting an alarm. Also, if you can’t sleep in your own bedroom, you should find out what your options are. Is there a couch or bed at work? One of my old jobs used to keep a futon in the closet in case someone got tired and needed a quick nap. If you have a car, that’s often a quiet and reasonable comfortable place for a quick nap. I’ve even taken a nap head-down on my desk before, so if you can stand that position just bring a pillow to work so you won’t wake up with a sore face.

If you don’t have the best accommodations for sleeping during the work day, a power nap may not be for you. If you do have a good place to catch a few Zs, however, give it a try. It worked well for me and I’m going to do it again next time I need a boost in the afternoon.

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