Many modern employees are all in favor of workplace amenities like ball pits, game rooms, yoga classes, open offices, and other quick diversions that are designed to improve productivity. But, while the jury is still out on the benefits of having an ice hockey table in the office, napping is scientifically proven to boost performance.
Benefits of Napping at Work
A 2008 Behavioral Brain Research study found that a nap is better than caffeine for improving perceptual learning, motor skills, and verbal memory. If you are performing high functioning tasks at work, a nap will benefit you more than a shot of espresso. Other benefits of napping include:
Sharpened motor skills
Why We Need Naps
Today, the average working adult sleeps less and less. One of the reasons behind this is the increase in off-hour duties many employees face. Moreover, exposure to the ‘blue light’ coming from our laptops and smartphones is only making matters worse.
Our natural circadian rhythm is also partially to blame. A nice 20-minute nap can help you deal with the early afternoon slump of drowsiness and sluggish “post-lunch” performance.
Still, it’s important to note that a power nap is no replacement for a good night’s sleep. If you are having a hard time getting enough shut-eye at night, it may be best to use a blue light filter on your phone or laptop, try some sleep support supplements, do more exercise, or talk to a professional.
How to Take a Power Nap at Work
Find the Right Location
Your company may have awesome workplace amenities, but chances are it doesn’t have a designated sleeping area. Don’t let that stop you from taking your power nap. You still may be able to find a relaxing and isolated location at work that’s ideal for napping. Try one of the following places:
Your office. If you have an office of your own, you’re already way ahead of the game. Simply shut your door, turn off the computer, and put your phone into silent mode. If you plan to nap in your office often, consider stashing a pillow in your desk.
Your car. Your car could be even more comfortable than your office. Sneak out to your company parking lot to get some shut-eye during your coffee break. But, if there’s a lot of foot traffic there, consider parking your car a bit further from your office. If the area is noisy, you can always bring earplugs. Lower your car seat and enjoy your nap.
Conference room. An empty conference room is just as good as a personal office. To prevent accidental interruptions, make sure to reserve the room first.
Library. If there’s a library near your company, you’ve hit the jackpot. There’s little chance somebody will disturb you at a library as everyone is expected to talk quietly there.
Gym. Consider taking a nap before your daily workout. Many gyms have lounges that are perfect for napping.
Nap After Lunch
A quick siesta is sure to energize you for the rest of the workday. Around 1 PM, your natural body clock is in a sleep phase. Try to take advantage of that. If you can take a quick nap after lunch, it won’t disrupt your night-time sleep.
Create an Ideal Sleep Environment
For optimal sleep, you need a quiet room with no lights. Also, the ideal room temperature for sleeping is between 15°C and 20°C. You may not have a comfy, temperate room at your disposal, but try to find a place where you can close the shutters.
Keep it Short
The key to a good nap is to keep it short. If you sleep for too long, you risk entering the REM phase of sleep. To avoid that, keep your power nap under 30 minutes. A 15 to 20 minute nap is the sweet spot for most people.
Before your nap, it’s best to consume drinks and food that contain protein and calcium—like milk. Avoid consuming food or drinks that contain sugar, fat, caffeine, or carbohydrates as they can keep you awake.
The key to napping at work is to fall asleep quickly. If you can nap in your car, an eye mask and a neck pillow can be of great help.
If those are not an option, bring something else to work that you associate with sleep, something subtle. For instance, you could put a few drops of lavender oil on your wrists or you could slip on a pair of cosy socks.
You could also install a white noise app on your phone. Try wearing breathable clothes as they are great for napping.
Incorporating a power nap into your workday is a great way to increase performance. Napping at work may seem tricky, but it gets easier once you establish a routine. If you feel weird about it, remember: science is on your side!