I just woke up from a 30-minute nap. I feel fantastic.
But when I casually mention to friends and acquaintances that I’m a (self-proclaimed) champion napper, I often get this response: “I would nap, but whenever I wake up I feel groggier than before I napped.”
Maybe you’re doing it wrong.
I think naps are a near-necessary part of life, somewhat in the same category as bungee shoelaces, Otter boxes, and pre-peeled hard boiled eggs. If you get a regular 7-8 hours of sleep per night without fail and have a fairly sedentary day job, well, good for you – you might not need a nap.
But if you are like me – burning the candle at both ends and working a job that requires you to be on your feet and moving from dawn to dusk – then you darn well could use some additional help. And I have some suggestions.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to napping, just like there’s no single solution for exercise or weight loss. You have to try different things until something works – which is why I present to you my greatest hits list on napping:
10) The Psuedo-Sleep. This is for those times when you just did NOT get enough sleep last night (I’m talking 4-5 hours) and you are dead exhausted. This also works best for when you actually have time to nap – perhaps a weekend? – and can lay it down for a couple of hours. I don’t recommend letting it go past 3 hours, but my general rule is this: take 7 hours and subtract the amount of sleep you actually got last night. That’s how long you should pseudo-sleep.
9) The Power Hour. Got an hour for lunch? You may have time for an eat n’ sleep duo – use a half hour to eat a healthy, light meal, then take the other half hour to snooze it up. Avoid trying to do this after a heavy meal – despite feeling more sluggish – because you may get more than you bargained for in terms of the sleep quality.
8) The Doze. Ok, so this isn’t technically a nap – those of us who do yoga might call this the “extended savasana.” The basic idea behind The Doze is to lie down on your back somewhere flat, quiet, and calm (this can be a yoga mat in your office!) and focus on closing your eyes, relaxing the muscles of your body from head to toe, and inhaling and exhaling your breath deeply and slowly for just 10 minutes (set a timer). Simply focusing on something non-stressful for 10 minutes can feel like a spa day in the middle of chaos – try it!
7) The Double Doze. Should you have the glorious “ideal nap duration” of 20 minutes, start with The Doze above, but let yourself drift off into sleep after about 5-10 deep breaths. Ahhhh, that’s better.
6) The Sandwich. Sometimes I have odd breaks in my schedule – a half hour before a client; a half hour after. This is when I’ll split my nap time into two – take a quickie before I head to work, then take another little one afterward. Ideally each nap only lasts 20 minutes, but the resultant rest feels like you’ve gotten a full hour – plus you’ve actually done something productive in between!
5) The Midnight Special. Perfected in college, this nap is also known as the “pregame” – when 8pm rolls around and you’re expected to go out for the night, but instead you feel like throwing on your jammies and calling it a night – pound down a Midnight Special – typically a 5-hour Energy shot followed by a 20-30 minute doze. Is it healthy for regular use? Of course not. But if you’ve got a special occasion to buck up for and you’re just not in the mood, this can change your game.
4) The Car Nap. Yeah, you heard what I said. So you work a day job and can’t steal home to the glory of your own bed? Hop down to your vehicle! I actually keep a pillow in my trunk for car naps because they are a vital part of a long-commuting day – find yourself a shady spot in the far reaches of a parking garage or lot and hunker down in your own backseat. Pro tip: make sure to crack a window to avoid waking up in a pool of your own sweat.
3) The Postrun. I often get a massive wave of fatigue after finishing a long run, bike ride, or hot yoga session – and I know it’s only because of the immediate exertion and not an all-day thing. That said, it can be hard to power through that initial feeling of tiredness – so I hop in the shower, get clean, and fall into bed for a 20-25 minute respite while my wet hair dries (and sometimes with a pore-cleaning face mask on as well!). Talk about beauty rest!
2) The Snuggler. This one gets a high ranking on my list because it does a body good – in more ways than one. Sometimes (i.e. all the time) I wake up earlier than my partner, so I do my regular morning tasks (take clients, go running, bathe, etc.) and come home when he is still sleeping. When this happens, I’ll hop into bed and spoon it up for a short while – usually 10-20 minutes – just to sync up my breathing with his and get some high-quality cuddle time. Even though I may not actually fall asleep, this often works to make me feel calm and relaxed in the same way an actual nap would do.
1) The Coffee Nap. IMO, the king of naps – this is the one where you have a cup (or…two) of coffee (non-drinkers try some green tea!), then immediately hit the sack for 20-30 minutes. As you rest, the caffeine kicks in, and when your alarm goes off – BOOM! You shoot out of bed like a firecracker on the Fourth. Don’t believe me? Maybe you don’t brew your coffee strong enough. 😉
Are you a napper or a night-only sleeper? What’s your preferred napping style – even if it isn’t listed here?