how to nap

If you’re a Type A overachiever, the thought of a power nap might seem like heresy. Who has time to sleep when there are bills to pay, clients to please, and work to do? Truth be told, a nap can actually be productive—if you embrace both the concept and the right way to catch a few workday zzs. Here’s a quick guide for even the most high-strung creative.

The Power of Naps

Napping can be construed as lazy, but experts like the scientists of the National Sleep Foundation think it’s anything but. They point out that with an increasing number of sleep-deprived workers, productive naps can improve alertness, boost mood, and even increase on-the-job performance. WebMD’s Jennifer Soong suggests gauging your needs before hitting the hay—if you want to work on decision-making skills, opt for a 30-60 minute nap, or choose a 20-minute nap to improve alertness and motor skills.

Making Naps Happen

It might seem like a drag to plan out a nap, but a bit of preparation can make your power snooze a productive one. The goal isn’t to fall into a deep, lengthy sleep, so make sure there’s some light in the space where you’ll sleep. Consider sleeping at a slight angle—the odd position will lull you into slumber, but make it easy to awaken. Make sure to set an alarm, and mask outside sounds with earplugs or some white noise.

If you need to give your nap an extra jolt, consider drinking some caffeine right before you hit the sack. If you only plan to sleep for 20 or 30 minutes, that cup of coffee will be hitting your system right as you awaken…and studies have shown that a caffeine/nap combination is actually more effective than just a cup of coffee or a nap on its own.

If you work in an office, you may face anti-nap sentiment, so gauge the culture before you pull out your pillow. (Of course, there’s always the power of a head on a desk or a quick snooze in a car if you don’t want to raise eyebrows.) If you’re at home, choose a place that’s comfortable, but not too comfortable…you don’t want your catnap to turn into an all-night snooze session.

Most of all, relax. If your inner taskmaster thinks napping is sinful or a waste of time, you’re likely to spend your time tossing and turning rather than reveling in healthy, healing sleep. Tell that critic to hit the road while you hit the sack, and go to bed with the best of intentions.

Enjoy your nap…your body and mind will thank you!