Perfecting the Power Nap
I wake up earlier than most people think is reasonable. Pre-Daylight Savings Time change, it was around 3:30 a.m. No alarm. I would wake naturally, have my coffee, and do my morning reading and writing. The “spring forward” threw off my natural rhythm a bit, but I’m slowly working my way back to my normal.
On the flip side, I am in bed by 8:30 p.m., at the absolute latest. I start to wind down much earlier than that.
The other effect is that by midday, I’m exhausted. I try to get a lot of intensive writing/focus work done in the morning. That point that many people reach around 3:30–4:00 in the afternoon of a traditional 9:00–5:00 workday? I hit that wall around noon.
But at noon, my day isn’t over. My days are a blend of work and home. The first half of the day includes chunks of time in geting my elementary school children out to the bus and picking up the 3-year-old from half-day preschool. So while I have been awake for quite some time, my day is far from over. I usually have some things to finish up in the afternoon.
Enter the Power Nap.
Power napping was something I tried for years, but never really got good at. I would lie down and end up sleeping for far too long. Or, I would have an afternoon meeting on my brain and fear that I would not wake up in time. I assumed that daytime napping was not for me. Yet, as waking before the sun rises became more and more routine, I found that by early afternoon I could barely keep my eyes open.
Then I read an article that learning to power nap takes practice… like up to 30 days of practice. It’s about teaching the mind and body to fall asleep in a short time period and not sleep for too long.
So I started practicing. I would lie down on the daybed in my office. Close the curtain, use a face mask to block light, and snuggle under a weighted blanket. I also set a timer for 30 minutes.
At first, I got zero sleeping done in that timeframe. But the “brain break” was still nice. After a period of time, I found that I had drifted off to sleep for at least a few minutes by the time the alarm went off.
Now, I don’t even need an alarm. After putting the 3-year-old down for her nap around 12:30, I can lie down, fall asleep, and easily be awake by 1:00. My actual “sleeping” time is likely only 15–20 minutes. But it is the perfect amount: I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the afternoon.