No, napping isn’t a replacement for a night of quality sleep. But when your schedule is thrown off by travel or shift work, or you just can’t log enough hours during the night to feel rested, it can help. Think of a nap like a jumpstart for a car battery that is low on power. It won’t last forever, but it can provide enough of a boost to get you back on your the road until you can take your machine into the shop. (Or in this case, into bed for a solid night’s sleep.) The secret to effective napping is making it work where you are, when you need it. Here are some nap-savvy ways to get some midday shuteye.
This one might seem like a no-brainer. After all, if you’ve got access to your bed, you’re more than set for sleep, right? Actually, depending on the hours you keep, your bedroom may not be set up to block out extra light, making it harder to fall asleep. And during the day, roommates or family members will be up and about, creating noise that might disrupt
your peace. Consider upgrading your curtains to ones made of blackout material, and place a white noise machine near the door to buffer sounds.
At a growing number of colleges around the U.S., lucky students can now pop into a nap room to take a study break. These noise-free sanctuaries are the result of administrators recognizing the toll that poor sleep can have on students’ academic output. Make sure to set an alarm so you only sleep 20 to 30 minutes—that’s the ideal amount of sleep for recharging your system without waking up groggy.
Outdoors in the Fresh Air
While bright light and birds chirping may not be the ideal backdrop for sleep, a gentle breeze can be quite restful and a chill in the air can help your body prepare for a snooze. Lay out a blanket to help yourself get comfortable, kick off your shoes, and consider wearing an eye mask—or at least sunglasses—to reduce ambient light.
If you have a private office where you can close the door, turn off your computer, and shut your eyes for a power nap, you have it made. Stash a pillow and blanket in a cabinet or your desk drawer, and you’re set. If you work in a cubicle or an open-concept workspace, try reserving a conference room for your nap. Just make sure to put a sign on the door to keep from being disturbed. For those that drive to the office, a quick snooze in your car might work.
Many gyms have lounges with comfortable chairs that are perfect for resting up before a good workout. If your facility has separate rooms for group classes, see if one is empty, grab a yoga mat, dim the lights, and hit the floor. The payoff: Sleep can also improve motor learning, meaning a quick nap pre-workout can give you an edge.