For a long time napping during the day was frowned upon. Yet, things are changing.
Ever increasing working hours and the increase of pressure and stress experienced by many today mean that taking a short power nap rather than causing harm could in fact help to get a person through the day.
Even for those who do not feel they are lagging by the end of the working day, the National Sleep Foundation argues that: ‘a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance’. You can read the article from which this quote is taken in full via the National Sleep Foundation website.
That said, suddenly mastering the habit of falling asleep at midday or at work is not something that most of us can do at will, at least not easily. The fact is, nodding off in the office for millions of us only ever seems to happen when we do not mean or want to do it.
To reverse this reality, here is a quick Sleepy People guide to taking a successful nap on your lunch break.
Ration those Z’s
As aforementioned, the recommended power nap should ideally be between 20 and 30 minutes long. Any longer and studies show that much of the potential benefits are lost.
Also, with the average lunch break lasting no longer than an hour, even if more zeds did correlate with more benefits, being discovered literally sleeping on the job is likely to change all that.
So, limit your naps to a maximum of 30 minutes. This well help to refresh and refocus you without interfering with your usual nightly routine or causing you to struggle to nod off come bedtime.
Only Nap Within the Optimum Hours
The optimum hours in which to take a nap are (rather conveniently) between 1pm and 3pm.
By breaking up the day into two chunks and napping to do so, this makes both periods of activity easier to manage and get through.
Further, it is likely that by lunch time our blood sugar is dipping, our focus is waning and we are beginning to feel less energetic.
Hence, rather than fight through the urge to rest, ensure to eat a healthy lunchtime meal and if possible then take a short nap.
Retreat to Your Car
If you happen to drive to work, it is worth returning to your car to nap.
Not only is your car seat (when reclined) likely to be more comfortable and provide your spine with more support whilst napping, establishing a place separate from your office or work environment in which to catch some zeds can make nodding off easier.
Not to mention, many of us are less likely to be disturbed by noise and goings on or interrupted if we retreat to our cars.
Remember to Put Your Mobile on Silent
Many of us send messages and post social media updates during our lunch breaks. We might also call up friends or family for a quick chat, gossip or to remind a loved one we’re out of milk.
Hence, I you do not silence your mobile before dosing off you might end up waking more startled and dazed than refreshed and raring to go.
‘Do Not Disturb’
Make it clear to all those who might otherwise and inadvertently disturb you that at a certain time of each day you do not want to be disturbed.
Of course, communicating with those you live, work or socialise with is advisable first and foremost to simply avoid being disturbed. That said, even if you do not manage to sleep during this time, sneaking 20 minutes in which to just rest and escape all the noise and technology may well help in the long term to calm, relax and refresh your energy stores anyway.
Find Somewhere Quiet
This might sound easier said than done. It also might take getting a little creative or leaving your workplace at lunchtime, but it really is worth trying to find a quiet place.
For those working in a communal or open office an empty conference or meeting room might provide solace. Meanwhile, for those working nearby their local library or gym, both often provide quiet rooms or lounges where people can nod off without causing offence or annoyance quiet often.
Drown Out the Outside World
For those not lucky enough to have the haven of a car or private office to retreat to, one option that works for many and is growing in popularity is to turn to white noise.
You can download white noise MP3s to your tablet or phone. One free alternative though is to listen to white noise via Youtube.
Simply load the video via your mobile or even your work computer, plug your earphones in and get your head down on your desk.
Whilst some might take a while to relax into this habit, others are likely to be surprised at just how quickly and easily they enter the land of nod.
Meanwhile, one major benefit of this approach is that you can also ask your colleagues to send a surreptitious elbow your way if you get so relaxed you fail to wake after half an hour.