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B086: How to take a nap

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How do you like to take a nap? It’s simple, right? Lay down, close your eyes… BOOM, job done. Well, not exactly, especially if you’re feeling super groggy afterwards, are jet lagged, or are having constant insomnia issues that you’re dealing with. 

Earlier this week, I spoke with Gitte Winter Graugaard all about how to help your child get better sleep. And the really big AHA in our conversation was to shift the focus on the parent, not the kid… FIRST.

When the parent’s basic needs are taken care of on a physical and an emotional level, they show up more fully to take better care of their children. So, if you’re feeling a bit sleep deprived or just need a little way to relax, maybe it’s time to re-learn how to take a nap! As per the Mayo Clinic, napping when done right results in “relaxation, reduced fatigue, increased alertness, improved mood, quicker reaction and better memory.” 

And who doesn’t want all of that!

Ok, so here’s a few things to consider when you’re about to take a nap:

  • limit the length of time
  • give it a caffeine boost
  • regulate your space
  • get outside afterwards

Here’s how to take a nap – 4 things to consider:

1. Limit the length of time

One thing you should know about me is that I used to be the world’s worst napper. I would lay down for a quick snooze that would result in a 3-5 hour full sleep session. That’s not a nap, my friends… that’s a sleep cycle. Therefore, you’ll want to limit the length of time you sleep preferably between 10-26 minutes and do it in the early afternoon, say like 1-3pm. In fact, NASA scientists found that a 26-minute nap actually improved pilot performance by 34% and alertness by 54%. I don’t imagine many of you are flying in a rocket today, but hey girl, you do a lot! Who wouldn’t like to be a bit more alert! 

Remember, if you sleep for one hour or more, you’re likely entering into a whole new sleep cycle and that grogginess you feel afterwards is called “sleep inertia.” Not good. Find the best disco nap length that works for you and stick with it. Set gentle alarms upon waking, get up, and get moving.

2. Give it a caffeine boost

It seems totally counter-intuitive I know, but there’s been research lately that proves you might want to sip a cup of coffee immediately before taking a nap. In fact, author John Cline, PhD of Sleepless in America (link book) states that “caffeine typically takes about 10 minutes to take full effect,” so you’ll feel more awake after a 20 minute nap.” When you take a caffeine nap, you drink a small cup of coffee and then take a 20 minute power nap. If done right, he says “it’ll sharpen your senses and help to intensify focus.”  

As with anything you hear on this podcast, run it by your doctor and do the research to see if it’s right for you first. But maybe this could be the answer the next time you’re super stressed out, working on a deadline, hitting a mental block and not sure what to do next. Flip on the kettle and take a nap!

3. Regulate your space

If you’re going to nap, do it right. Your body will appreciate lying down and on your side for maximal brain function, so says the Journal of Neuroscience. Regulate your space, making sure it’s a dark, quiet room with minimal distractions. Set the temperature to something comfortable, ideally 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 15-19C), not too hot and not too cold. If you’ve got a door on your office and a company culture that allows disco naps at work, maybe stash a pillow in there and set yourself up for success. 

Otherwise, head to the bed or couch and get into the “half-crawl position” as recommended by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body. This is where you lie on side, place your right hand under your head, and kick your right knee out to the side in a bent position. The science behind it is that this position makes it almost impossible to move without lifting your entire body off the bed. And he believes that “less fidgeting has a calming effect on the nervous system, which results in faster sleep.” BOOM.

4. Get outside afterwards

Remember, napping is not replacing your full sleep cycle at night. It’s just a tiny boost right when you need it the most. So, the very best way to train your brain of this fact is to pop up after a nap and get outside. Even just 5-10 minutes will help you shake the post-nap bleariness and reset your biological clock, especially if you get out in the sunshine. Don’t linger wherever you napped. Once that alarm has gone off, blast off like a rocket ship, a la Mel Robbins style and get yourself outside as soon as possible.

One final whisper

If sleep isn’t your friend these days, I highly recommend letting your doctor know. There may be a root cause underneath everything that no matter how skilled of a napper you are, it won’t get fixed.

We aren’t meant to run through the motions of this life like a zombie. 

But there are days where I certainly don’t feel like #doingthething. Girl, I feel you. So hopefully this episode has given you a couple new ideas on how to refine your disco nap style and help your body (and mind) get the rest it needs.

My friend, Sharon Mays, owner of Baby Greens in Austin, Texas always preached the power of naps during the day. If you are the leader in a high-stress environment, day in and day out, you’ve got to figure out what works best to nourish you. Remember, you set the tone as the business owner. You can begin to influence the company culture to move away from the “hustle and grind mentality” and move towards one that values taking good care of yourself and others. Naps might the solution you (and your co-workers) need. Give it a go for a week. See if your performance, your mood, and your alertness improves. And of course, aim to get the long, deep sleep at night on a regular schedule.

You can do this, I believe in you.

It’s time to SIMPLIFY.

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Show credits: Suzen Marie, our Podcast Editor. Jeffrey Lynn, our Video Editor. Lyden Yardley, our Show Notes Editor, and Manminder Athwal, our Blogger. Aubri Nowowiejski, Chris Justice and George Mills, our advisory board. And I’m your host, Mary Baird-Wilcock. Thank you so much for joining us.

As always friends, keep things simple.

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