The power of a 15-minute nap at midday

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Isn’t it funny how the most common habits seem so ridiculous: take a walk, start journaling, exercise daily, or have a 15-minute nap.

They seem almost too basic to be effective. That’s because we overlook the obvious and search for the complex need to a simple problem.

Today I woke up and started writing. I wasn’t feeling it at all, even after coffee. So, I put my computer in sleep mode and a few minutes after twelve noon, I took a 15-minute nap.

Shortly after, I awoke refreshed and ready to work again. This is a habit I’ve been experimenting with for the last three months.

What if the key to unlocking more energy and working for longer is taking a nap in the middle of the day? Before you judge me, remember this:

You’re not lazy, bored, or unmotivated for needing a nap. You’re human.

It turns out I’m not that smart. The Ancient Roman doctors have been prescribing naps for centuries according to doctoral candidate Caroline Wazer in her researched backed article that appeared in The Atlantic.

Taking a nap is the panacea for many health problems. It allows you to reset your mind, take time out, relax, and come back ready to work. And did I mention it only takes 15-minutes!

I don’t nap every day, though. Two days a week I write full-time and on those days there is always a 15-minute nap scheduled. Without it, I end up losing energy and burning out by 5 pm. Napping has helped me produce a higher quality of work and write a greater number of words on days where I had a nap as compared with days where I didn’t take a nap.

‘I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything till noon. That’s when it’s time for my nap.’ — Bob Hope

Here are some helpful tips when taking a 15-minute nap at midday:

Use a timer

Set a timer on your phone for 15-minutes. When the 15-minutes is up, gently sit up and walk out of the bedroom.

(Side note: My current alarm clock has terrible sounds that make waking up from a nap feel like a heart attack. I’m still searching for a gentle wake up tone.)

Go to a dark room

The best place to nap is in your bedroom, with the lights off and blinds down. The darkness helps you rest and shutting the door helps block out noise.

Away from home naps

If you’re at work or away from home, you can still nap. There is a guy I used to work with who would take a nap in the lobby on the couch unashamedly on his lunch break.

If you’re not so brave and don’t like the idea of your colleagues taking pictures of you sleeping and calling you lazy, you can go somewhere quiet.

The easiest hack is to go into someone else’s lobby or visit a local park with a nice bench to relax on and hear the sounds of the local wildlife.

Close your eyes even if you don’t sleep

During some naps, you won’t sleep at all. Sometimes you can end up judging yourself and calling the nap a failure — a bit like we do when we meditate and judge the result.

The number one outcome of a nap is to relax, not to sleep.

If you rested for 15-minutes and still had a mind full of busy thoughts, it’s okay. One way to up your napping game is to try and focus on the present. Breathe deeply and just do whatever you can to relax.

Try not to think about what happens after the nap and your rest will be better. Otherwise, you’ll spend your nap time mind-mapping and planning.

Don’t oversleep it

Throughout this three month experiment, I have overslept during a few naps. My mind has won and used the excuse “You’re tired; sleep longer.”

The times I have gone over the 15-minutes when napping have led me to feel even more tired than before the nap. Sometimes it can interrupt my real sleep in the evening too.

Utilize the refreshed feeling

Once you’ve finished your nap, come back refreshed and use the extra energy for something productive. For me, that’s writing.

Notice how good you feel after a short nap and watch what it does to those tasks you enjoy doing and dedicate your spare time to.

It’s hard to inspire anyone with your work when you’re dead tired. Add in a 15-minute nap at midday to see if it makes a difference to your energy levels and state of mind.

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