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How to Take the Perfect Power Nap

Power Nap.

What comes to mind when you hear that word?

If you’ve taken a break from the #naplife, you might think naps are sign of the lazy.

Lies. All of ‘em.

When you do the impossible, you get tired from time to time and you’ll need one.

Between working out, working on your side hustle, blogging, podcasting, meal prepping and who knows what else, there's a lot to do.

I hate sleeping in. I do it on occasion, but I hate it.What I do prefer is to wake up early, get all the things I need to get done and THEN, if I'm tired, take a power nap.

It's short, refreshing and preps me for the rest of my day. Here's how I structure mine.

Notes: If you work from home, you're golden. If you work in an office, use part of your lunch break in your car or somewhere similar. It's worth it.

The Anatomy of the Perfect Power Nap

[color-box color="red"]Warning: Once you start taking power naps, it's gonna be hard to stop.[/color-box]

First of all, there's a big question we should ask:

How long should a power nap be?

There are usually two schools of thought here, but I'll share with you 3 options. The Refresh, The Rest and The Power Cycle.

Refresh Cycle - 20 minutes

This is a quick nap that takes just 20 minutes. It's a quick refresher and usually the only thing I need to get back on my feet for the afternoon.

Rest Cycle - 45 minutes

If you're dragging a bit more and have a bit more time, a rest cycle is a full 45 minutes or so. Good to go, but you need to have some extra time.

Power Cycle - 120 minutes

If you've got enough time, you can lay down for a 2 hour nap and really get some shuteye. This is a bit tougher, because 1) you need way more time 2) it's tempting to sleep even longer than 2 hours. Use these judiciously. I'll use these when I'm jet lagged, but don't want to burn the whole day or on a weekend after a week where I didn't get great sleep.

Usually, I almost always keep my power naps contained to a 20 minute period. Any longer feels like I'm taking huge chunks out of the middle of the day and leaves me the danger of making a power nap, into a full blown sleep session. On top of that, if you do it right, you only really need 20 minutes anyway.

The Power Nap Routine

Here's the power nap routine that I'm perfecting. I'm not a pro...yet (anyone want to sponsor me?), but I am getting pretty good at these, if I do say so myself.

Lay Down

Find a nice corner somewhere that you can lie down. Bed, couch, yoga mat or even the floor. Grab a pillow for your head.

Dim The Lights

If you can't go completely dark, dim the lights at least to make it easier to drift off to sleep.

Cover Your Eyes

Get an eye mask, or if you're in a rush, cover your eyes with a baseball hat or a BUFF (my personal, portable favorite).

Elevate Your Feet

I used to have trouble falling asleep fast enough during power naps to make them worth it. Elevating my feet changed all that. All of a sudden, I was out like a light. Boom. Use a pillow, set of books, or anything you can find to bring you legs up just a bit. It helps a ton.

Set an Alarm

Depending on your time goals, set an alarm. I very strongly recommend you go in those intervals (20, 45, 120), so you don't try to get "55 minutes and wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle. Not fun!

The PowerNap app does this automatically. It will set your max time of sleep and then wake you up when you're in the lightest sleep. This prevents you from getting super groggy post-name (if you've ever had this happen to you, you know what I mean).

Add Some Ambiance Music (optional)

Throw on some Ambiance music. If you have the room to yourself, that's great, but you might be able to just toss on some tunes and wear some good headphones to block out the world going on around you (and missing out on the wonders of napping).

Again, I use the PowerNap app for this, but you can use an app like Calm or Noisli.

Catch Some ZZZ's

Grab a blanket, lean back and get a restful quick power nap.

Wake up Refreshed

That's all there is to it! Easy, huh?

The Power Nap App

While you don't need anything more than a baseball cap and a timer to really get your rest on, I like to use the PowerNap app by the Sleep Cycle team.

The app senses your body movement and makes sure you wake before you get into deep sleep. It also wakes you at your lightest sleep so you're not groggy all day.

It's about $2 bucks on the app store, which is about half the cost of one of your afternoon coffees - well worth it considering the rest it gets you.

=> Download The PowerNap App

Supercharged Power Naps: Meet The Coffee Nap

If you want to experiment with even more interesting power nap techniques, you'll want to check out the Coffee Nap.

Essentially, you pair a Refresh cycle with a cup of coffee before hand. Yes - it sound counterintuitive, but because it takes your body time to process the caffeine, by the time the effect hits (about 20 minutes in), you'll be finishing up your nap. This means that you wake up refreshed with the nap, but also with the buzz of caffeine!

Win/Win.

Try it and let me know what you think.

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Photo by Jackman Chiu on Unsplash