I believe it was president Kennedy that started the White House rule of having a scheduled nap for 20 minutes in the middle of the day and rumour has it, all the presidents have been doing it ever since! Thomas Edison used to work so intensely that he’d force himself to have only 3-4 hours sleep a night but would have several naps through the day to help keep his intense focus, Sam Goldwyn the cinema giant would actually change into his pyjamas after lunch and snore away for an hour and Churchill once said, “Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts 20 minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.”
The truth is, a nap can help you enormously, whether you’re in need of extra concentration for a business meeting or extra energy for a gym workout, it works! The flip side is that if you don’t get the timing right, it can make you feel groggy.
So tips for a decent nap:
1. Either go for a short power nap which is a 20-30 minute sleep, 60 minute or a full cycle of 90 minutes. Anything in between or more than 90 minutes usually causes problems. Everyone is different but from experience 20 minutes works best for most people.
2. Avoid coffee before a nap. Caffeine will stimulate your cortisol for up to 6 hours so trying to nap in that period will cause problems either getting to sleep or having a disturbed sleep!
3. Research shows that the best time for a nap is between 11am and 3pm, which is when your energy naturally dips. So a good time is right after lunch.
4. Find a quiet, dark place or use an eye mask and ear plugs. There’s nothing worse than getting into a decent nap when someone comes along and makes a racket to wake you up and light will stimulate cortisol release to keep you awake.
These days everyone needs their focus, creativity and work ethic to be at their best, so get napping and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel.
Have a great nap