A beneficial practice that you can incorporate into your daily routine and that can help you “master your craft” are power naps. A power nap involves sleeping for a short period of time during the day to curb your drowsiness and improve your energy levels.
Many of us don’t get enough sleep (less than 7 hours) because we go to bed too late and need to wake up early to go to work or school. Among other things, sleep deprivation can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness, memory lapses, and irritability.
Therefore, if it’s not possible for you to improve the quantity and quality of the sleep that you get every night, you can supplement your sleep with short or long power naps. Short power naps are between 10 to 20 minutes in duration and are used to enhance your alertness and boost your energy levels if you feel slightly tired during the day. They involve the lighter stages of the sleep cycle so it makes it easier for you to go back to what you were doing when you wake up. On the other hand, long power naps are 90 minutes in duration and are used to recuperate from a bad night of sleep (e.g., only sleeping 4 hours, restless throughout the night). They involve a full sleep cycle (light and deep stages of sleep) so it will leave you feeling fully refreshed when you wake up.
However, are 30, 45, or 60-minute naps worth it? The only issue with these types of naps is that you will wake up from a deeper stage of sleep which will leave you feeling groggy for a good portion of the day. I believe that these types of naps are counterproductive if your objective is to feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day.
In addition, make sure that you nap early in the afternoon, if not, you might have trouble falling asleep at night because your sleep cycle will be disrupted.
Find a dark and quiet place to nap. If it’s not possible, use some ear plugs and a sleeping mask! Lie down or sit in a reclining chair (135-degree angle if possible). Choose between a short or long power nap, depending on your needs. Set your alarm. Relax and focus on the sensations in your body instead of thinking about what’s on your to-do list.
The following study demonstrates how short power naps can improve task performance. In 1999, Hayashi and colleagues placed 7 young healthy adults into two different conditions at 1 week intervals. In the first condition, they were asked to nap for 20 minutes during the day. In the second condition, they were asked to rest for 20 minutes on a semi-reclining chair without sleeping. The results of this study showed that the participants perceived that taking short power naps helped them decrease their sleepiness and increase their task-performance and self-confidence, compared to simply resting on a chair for 20 minutes.
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.
Hayashi, M., Watanabe, M., & Hori, T. (1999). The effects of a 20 min nap in the mid-afternoon on mood, performance and EEG activity. Clinical Neurophysiology: Official Journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology, 110, 2, 272-9.