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A nap as brief as 10 minutes can improve your mood and productivity, alleviate tiredness, increase alertness and reduce errors made at work. In other words it’s one of the best productivity boosters around.
Simple, effective, effortless and brief –napping seems like the easy answer to daytime tiredness. But it’s not so easy for some. If you can’t stop you can’t nap, and many people find it really hard to stop.
The first step in learning how to nap, is therefore learning how to stop and value doing nothing for a while.
A pro-napping attitude, and a bit of nap know-how also helps if you want to give napping a chance in your life. Mental preparation involves reminding yourself that taking a few minutes out to restore your energy and balance is not a weak thing to do, but a very intelligent thing to do, as famous achievers like Churchill and Napoleon knew.
Then come the logistics. You’ll need a place where you can nap without being interrupted. If you get stuck consider a park on a warm day or your car. You may need some napping aids, such as a cloth or mat to put on the floor, a light blanket, small pillow, eye mask, ear-plugs, and an alarm.
Start with some simple stretches and as-though-you-are-going-to-sleep-yawns to help you wind down. Then lie down, take time to get really comfortable and gently close your eye as though you were going to sleep. Simply notice your body breathing. As you exhale let your thoughts go and trust there will be plenty of time for thinking later.
Timing is important. Nap for longer than 30 minutes and you risk experiencing sleep inertia which can leave you feeling more tired and groggy. While you can nap at any time, after lunch is usually the easiest time to drop off as it coincides with the natural down-turn in our circadian rhythms.
What if you ‘can’t’ nap? Imagine you can and just do it! You will still benefit from the rest and relaxation that comes from lying down and taking a break from the world. Reframe your nap as a lying down meditation if that helps.
Listen to the soothing sounds of napping here, to get you in the zone.
If you want to make napping a part of your life, don’t leave it to chance. Like any healthy habit, you’ll need to practice. Put yourself into an napping practice phase, where you schedule 15 – 20 minute naps in your diary, several times a week.