Napping is officially in vogue: a major wellness trend for 2020, naps are also gaining major traction in the corporate wellness world where ‘nap rooms’ and ‘zen zones’ are replacing common areas.
It’s not surprising why—apparently 80% of us are struggling to sleep each week and a staggering number of us have fallen asleep at work. But that 3pm slump certainly isn’t going to be cured by the chocolate bar you’re eyeing up. A good nap, meanwhile, has been shown to improve accuracy, reaction speed and logic, not to mention making us feel happier.
So with the working year just getting started, naps seem to be the answer for our sleep-deprived society. Here’s how to get it right, even if your workplace hasn’t yet responded to your requests for a nap pod.
Keep It Short
The Sleep Health Foundation suggests that under 30 minutes is ideal—any longer and you may wake up feeling groggy. Rather than playing nap roulette and hoping you’ll wake up at the perfect time, err on the side of caution and set an alarm. Timing-wise, if you’re regularly feeling sleepy at a certain time, it’s best to embrace the yawns and hit the hay then—just try not to nap too close to bedtime or you’ll find it harder to fall asleep later. But if that midday lunch break is the only chance you’ll get, don’t worry, we’ve got tips to get you heading off to dreamland below.
Cut The Caffeine
Or at least keep it to a minimum—if you’ve just inhaled a triple shot iced latte, there’s no way you’re going to get to sleep. Either stick to that one early morning coffee so you can get a nap in later on or sub it for a coffee alternative like green tea, dandelion root or even a turmeric latte.
Choose Your Environment
So where to nap? That couch in the breakroom may look comfy, but unless you’ve packed noise-cancelling headphones, your co-workers are probably going to keep you awake. Find an empty conference room or office instead—or even the backseat of your car if you’ve got it in a shady space. Temperature is also a factor, so try to choose somewhere that’s cool, but not too cold, unless you’ve thought ahead and brought a jacket. Not a cool, quiet spot to be found? Head to the nearest park and pop a blanket down on the grass under some shady trees.
Turn The Lights Off
Now we all know light also keeps us awake, and not just daylight—the blue light from our devices, ceiling lights and regular office lights are all culprits. If you’re doing a lot of computer work, try wearing light blocking glasses during the day, and avoid looking at your phone while you try to fall asleep. When you’re ready to nap, cover your eyes with an eye mask, scarf or that office blanket we know is in your drawer and you’ll be able to fall into a deeper sleep in less time.
Take Some Deep Breaths
Once you've found your perfect sleep-inducing spot, nod off faster by taking 10 deep breaths. Activating your parasympathetic nervous system, this counters feelings of stress and encourages relaxation of your muscles, facilitating deeper sleep faster. Do this upon waking as well and you’ll find yourself more calm, concentrated and content—and ready to tackle that email inbox once more.
Struggling to sleep at night? Try these seven slow lit podcasts.
Image credit: Arthur Savary