Credit: Getty Images
Thanks to a ton of new research that shows how napping sharpens decision-making, boosts concentration, and enhances creativity, today's most forward-thinking companies — from Nike to Google — now encourage the centuries-old siesta as your best new hack for getting ahead at work. "Napping is the no-cost, no-sweat, natural way for worker productivity," says Bill Anthony, author of The Art of Napping at Work and a psychiatry professor at Boston University.
Why does it work? "Your brain is very active during sleep, and it's doing important things for you in regards to work, like thinking, remembering, and processing info," says Dr. Carl Bazil, a neurology professor at Columbia University. This has been shown to play out in the real world. In a study conducted by NASA, pilots who napped in the cockpit for 25 minutes boasted faster reaction times and showed top performance throughout a longer flight compared to non-nappers. In other words, in less than half an hour you can wholly rejuvenate your brain. Here, from Anthony and Bazil, are some tips to help you nap during the work week for those days that you really need it.
Read Your Body
Your optimal nap hour will depend on your body's natural body clock, says Bazil. When you start to feel that natural lull of sleepiness during the day. For most people, it'll likely be early afternoon, when your lunch induces some laziness.
Keep It Under 40 Minutes
The best naps last about 20 to 30 minutes long. 40 minutes or more can make it tough to switch back to work-mode due to grogginess, according to Steven Shea, director of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health & Science University.
Announce Your Nap
Make sure your colleagues know you're about to nap with an announcement (This will allow you to sleep more comfortably and stress less), and then go anywhere where you can close your door undisturbed, like an empty conference room.
Buy a Pillow
Using a "nap-nomic device" like a favorite pillow, an open window, a darkened room, or a particular afghan will help you get to sleep faster.
Try Drinking Coffee Before You Nod Off
The caffeine in coffee can take 20–30 minutes to hit, so having a pre-nap coffee (often called a "coffee nap") helps ensure you're more alert and totally refreshed when you wake up 20 minutes later.