Growing up on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, my parents made napping a requirement. It was part of our Sunday ritual. We napped, then headed off to the beach with the rest of the family. At the time, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing they could possibly require for older children. I just wanted to skip the nap and get to the beach part. Fast forward 30+ years and I have perfected the power nap – and not just on Sundays. My parents knew something that many researchers have proven valuable on many levels. Some companies have gone so far as to install napping rooms, designated times or quiet zones that make napping easier.
Keep it short
A nap should be short enough to give you the boost of energy you need but not so long that it puts you into a deep sleep. Ideally, 20-30 minutes is sufficient to achieve this goal; anything longer and you run the risk of interrupting your overnight sleep pattern. There are some nappers who get the same benefit from as little as 10 minutes. In case you are wondering, the best time to nap is usually between 12 noon and 4 p.m.
Boost your immune system
Doctors often prescribe rest as part of the recovery strategy from an illness or injury. If an extended period of rest is good when you are sick, can you see the logic behind naps as a preventative strategy? The short period gives your body time for a quick reset that will reduce your stress level and give your body time to improve its ability to fight off illness.
Be more alert and productive
There are times when the fog of exhaustion sets in and your response time and ability to stay focused are significantly diminished. From NASA to emergency department professionals, studies have been conducted to verify that a nap can erase the fatigue, sleepiness, and low productivity that shows up in overworked professionals with good intentions.