Can anyone learn power napping?You've just enjoyed lunch, and shortly afterwards your concentration and performance levels drop because you're so tired? If the early afternoon at work becomes torturous because all energy has escaped from the body, a short nap in the afternoon, a so-called "power nap" could be the rescue.
Studies show that a short nap during the lunch break gives you more energy and increases your ability to concentrate and perform.
Short midday rest: "Siesta", "Inemuri" or "Power napping"
While people in other countries like Spain have a “siesta” around midday or in Japan everyone is granted the right to a spontaneous nap “Inemuri”, the health aspect of an afternoon nap has not yet fully penetrated the executive floors in this country.
In the meantime, however, the "power napping" trend is also attracting more and more attention here. After all, it's like this: only a rested and well-rested employee is also an efficient employee.
The term "power napping" comes from the famous Californian think tank, Silicon Valley. Hardly any other region in the world is changing so quickly. Start-ups are springing up like mushrooms, new technologies are constantly being developed there. A midday slump has a negative effect on creativity and performance.
In order to generate new energy and "power" again, a short nap was held in between. The employees of various companies then called these short sleep breaks “power napping”.
What exactly is behind the power napping trend and what are the health-promoting benefits of napping in between? How long should the nap last, how exactly does a power nap work and what do you have to consider if you want to integrate power napping into your everyday life? Why is a coffee drunk before considered an energy booster and why can anyone learn power napping?
What is power napping?
The English term "power napping" can be translated as "power snooze" and the word snooze already indicates that this is not a pronounced sleep over several hours, but just a small nap of shorter duration.
It is characteristic of power napping that the short, maximum 30-minute nap does not go through full sleep cycles like the REM phase. This makes us feel relaxed, rested, energetic and fit after the short sleep phase. Especially in stressful times with increasing pressure to perform, a power nap acts like a kind of natural stimulant without side effects.
Even if the relatively new trend of "power napping" originated in Silicon Valley and has yet to really catch on here, a nap in southern Europe or Asia is a tried and tested method of gathering new strength. In this way, the second half of the day can also be managed in a lively, concentrated and efficient manner.
Chronobiology: What role does our biological rhythm play
Power napping is closely related to the performance-oriented world of work and our biorhythm. According to research in chronobiology, our performance is at its absolute lowest after the lunch break, between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Chronobiology is a scientific field of biology that deals with the temporal organization of physical processes and behavioral patterns.
When exactly the low occurs is individually different. For late risers, the so-called owls, the midday slump sets in a little later than for larks, the early risers.
So if you're always tired, sluggish and unfocused around lunchtime, it doesn't necessarily have to be because of the sumptuous food during the lunch break. The biological rhythm that lives in us plays an essential role in this.
If we always get tired at the same time during the day, it corresponds to the longing for a nap in the afternoon. Ultimately, it is our natural need and that is increasingly penetrating the minds of many employees. This is also indicated by a survey by the professional network "LinkedIn":
The result of the survey, what constitutes a "dream job", speaks for itself: 22 percent of the participants see a quiet place for a short nap as an important criterion. At least the factor landed in third place on the wish list.
Power napping: The healthy benefits of a little nap in between
Sleep during working hours? Still unthinkable in many companies, because employees who want to take a power nap are still under the general suspicion of being lazy. The negative consequences of a midday slump should not be underestimated: productivity is reduced, concentration and performance are reduced and an increase in stress hormones can lead to health problems sooner or later. So let's focus on the health benefits of short naps.
Power napping: positive effects on body, mind and soul
A regular, short break around lunchtime can work wonders: Power napping in the office not only increases our performance, but also our mental and physical well-being in general.
It makes you more alert, improves our memory, creativity and concentration, so that the risk of mistakes and accidents at work is reduced.
In general, we are more relaxed and stress-resistant after a short nap. Power napping is therefore also a good measure to prevent emotional overload (burn-out). There are many health-promoting effects, which is why we should regularly integrate power napping into everyday life.
The health-promoting benefits of power napping at a glance:
- increase in concentration, creativity, memory and performance
- increase of productivity
- reduces stress, promotes mental hygiene
- reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack)
- lowers the risk of stroke
- ensures relaxation, well-being and a good mood
- reduces the risk of mistakes and accidents in everyday life and at work
- reduces body weight (tired people have increased appetite for fat and sugar)
- increases the concentration of the happiness hormone serotonin in the blood
- prevents emotional exhaustion (burn-out).
Power napping: How long should the nap last and when is the right time?
The duration and the right time for power napping are important factors so that the positive effect can unfold. Our biorhythmic midday low is usually between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
So after lunch seems to be the best time for a power nap. However, the short sleep should be well before 6 p.m. so that it is not difficult to fall asleep in the evening.
If you suffer from insomnia, you should definitely avoid power napping after 3 p.m., because that only throws your sleep-wake cycle into even more chaos.
Restful sleep at night, with an ideal sleep duration of between seven and nine hours, remains the most important form of sleep for our health. But how short or long is the optimal duration for power napping?
Proper power nap duration: 10 to 30 minutes
The right duration of the power nap is important and determines how we feel afterwards. The recommended optimal time span is 10 to 30 minutes – no shorter and no longer.
A nap that lasts longer than half an hour is strongly discouraged, because we can then fall into the deep sleep phase and feel anything but fresh and alert afterwards.
How the duration of power napping affects your recovery:
- Light sleep phase: Power nap for 10-20 minutes. The time span of 10 to 20 minutes is the optimal duration for a power nap. You are still in the light sleep phase and when you wake up you feel rested, fresh and full of energy.
- Deeper sleep phase: power nap for 30 minutes. Power napping for up to 30 minutes is fine. Anything longer than 30 minutes could already have a negative effect because you then slide from the light sleep phase into a deeper sleep phase. This is then noticeable in that you do not want to get up immediately and you feel a bit drowsy and not rested afterwards.
- Deep sleep phase: Power nap for 60 minutes. If your power napping lasts an hour or more, it is no longer a power nap because you are most likely already in the deep sleep phase. If the alarm clock then rings, you are very tired and cannot really get going. Taking a 60-minute nap during working hours is therefore not very productive, even if you can store knowledge you have learned particularly well during deep sleep. At the weekend it would be a different case.
- REM phase (dream phase): Power nap for 90 minutes. If you sleep 90 minutes, you're probably stuck in a full sleep cycle that includes the REM phase. REM sleep is our dream phase and in this phase we store learning processes even better. A lived through full sleep cycle ensures that you wake up refreshed, rested, fit and alert. However, a 90-minute nap is more suitable for the weekend than during office hours.
10 tips for power napping: This is how a little nap in between ensures relaxation - a little guide
If you have the opportunity to take a short nap during working hours, you should definitely take the opportunity to pay attention to your inner biorhythm and benefit from the health-promoting effects.
But sometimes it's not that easy to find your way to a nap at the push of a button. With practice, the right environment, and other tips to keep in mind, you'll be able to power nap.
Enjoy a little break - with the following 10 tips as a guide, you can use power napping in a simple way and integrate it into everyday life:
1. Choose the right time
When do you notice a drop in performance? For most people, leaden fatigue typically occurs after lunch. However, it depends on your individual biorhythm whether you get up early or prefer to sleep longer. So listen to your body and check when you are tired and unfocused.
The wedding for a midday low is between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. The early afternoon is therefore ideal for a little power napping. After waking up, you will start the second half of the day with renewed strength and energy.
It should never be too late, because then it will be difficult to fall asleep in the evening and your night's sleep will be disturbed. Therefore, avoid taking a short nap after 4:00 p.m. If you have insomnia, you should finish your power nap by 3 p.m. at the latest.
2. Have a coffee or espresso before power napping
Have a quick cup of coffee or espresso just before your nap? What sounds counterproductive at first, after all, caffeine tends to get us going at full speed, turns out to be a real insider tip for power napping.
The caffeine does not bother falling asleep quickly, because it usually takes around 20 minutes before the waking effect sets in. Ideally, you will have finished the power napping anyway, wake up refreshed, awake and relaxed and also benefit from the onset of the caffeine effect.
If you don't like coffee, you can use the healthier alternative, a cup of green tea. Green tea also contains caffeine, but also valuable antioxidants that protect us from harmful free radicals.
3. Create a suitable environment for quick relaxation
Power napping takes place during the day when it is light. In order to fall asleep quickly, you should create a dark environment. If you don't have a darkened room, e.g. in the office, a sleep mask could be helpful.
Darkness signals to the body, at least for a short time, that it is night. A sleep mask makes it easier for you to take a power nap anywhere: in the office, at home, on the train or at the airport.
The atmosphere of the environment also plays an important role in being able to switch off and slipping into a short sleep faster. No matter where you are, find a quiet place where you can close your eyes undisturbed.
4. Relaxing music while power napping: background noise yes or no?
If you are insensitive to noise, you can be happy, because then background noise is irrelevant when power napping. But if you need absolute silence for an afternoon nap, earplugs could provide peace of mind.
On the other hand, if you find it much easier to fall asleep with relaxing music or nature sounds, that's fine too - find out what you need to fall asleep quickly and have a restful nap. It's a very individual decision.
5. Sitting or lying down? Choose the right position and a comfortable pillow for a restful sleep in between
Power napping can be done anywhere you can lie down or sit down for a short time. You don't always have to lie down for a power nap. A relaxed posture is much more important and you can also do this while sitting.
So it depends on your preferences whether you prefer to lie comfortably or sit comfortably in a chair with your head resting on your arms or the desk.
It is also important that the head is supported. A neck pillow can also be used when sitting or lying down, so that the head does not bend to the side during sleep and thus tense the neck and shoulders. Even if you already suffer from neck and shoulder pain, a special neck pillow would be a good option.
So make sure you have a comfortable, sleep-friendly posture. Incidentally, the bed is not so well suited for power napping because there is a risk of exceeding the ideal power nap time and simply lying in bed. When you wake up you are anything but rested and relaxed. It is therefore better to lie down on the floor on a mat.
6. What temperature is optimal for power napping?
Your power nap environment should not be too warm or too cold, because both variants can delay falling asleep quickly. The ideal temperature is between 16° and 20° Celsius. If you're too cold, grab a blanket to warm up rather than turn up the heat. Not only the environment, but also your individual body feeling should be at a comfortable temperature.
7. Waking up is what counts: set an alarm clock!
The right length of time for the nap is the be-all and end-all of power napping. If you sleep longer than 30 minutes, you accidentally slip into the deep sleep phase and the power and recovery is gone when you wake up. So that you are woken up in time, it is best to set an alarm clock that will wake you up again after 20 minutes.
Experienced, experienced power nappers usually no longer need an alarm clock because they wake up all by themselves after the time has elapsed. When learning power napping, an alarm clock is a must at the beginning.
If you don't have an alarm clock at hand, grab an object and hold it in your hand. At the latest shortly before the beginning of the deep sleep phase you will drop the object because the hand relaxes. This will then wake you up automatically.
8. No mercy after waking up: Always get up!
When the alarm goes off, get up immediately, because then the power napping is over. Especially in the beginning and learning phase it doesn't matter whether you slept or not. The body should get used to the rhythm.
It takes time and practice to fall asleep well, and even if you only get five minutes of sleep to begin with, it will provide some recovery. On the other hand, sleeping longer than 30 minutes has a negative effect.
9. What comes after waking up? Stimulate the cycle!
If you enjoyed coffee, espresso or green tea before power napping, the circulation will be stimulated by itself after about 20 minutes. You are then awake, relaxed and full of energy.
But you can also get the circulation going by waking up by stretching your body, climbing a few stairs, getting some fresh air and splashing some cold water on your face or drinking a glass of water or lemon water. This ensures freshness and also stimulates both the metabolism and the circulation.
10. After waking up: Find the brightness of the day
In order to find your way back into the day from sleep mode, you should signal this to your body. Ideally, after the power nap you go out into the fresh air and enjoy the natural bright daylight. On very dark days in winter, daylight lamps or bright interior lighting can also be used as an alternative.
Can anyone learn power napping?
For many people it is not easy to calm down and fall asleep at the push of a button. The good news is that anyone can learn power napping. But as is the case with so many projects, the motto here is: practice makes perfect. But how can you learn power napping?
Relaxation methods: progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training and yoga
Sleep researchers recommend various relaxation techniques for learning power napping that ensure rest and relaxation. With methods such as progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson, autogenic training, meditation and yoga, you can train to fall asleep quickly during the day and deep relaxation.
Relaxation methods reduce stress, help with sleep disorders and are also used to relieve muscle tension and pain.
Adult education centers and sports clubs offer courses for various relaxation methods. A professional guide to learning proves to be very helpful. You can then train in peace and regularly at home.
Tip: This simple breathing exercise provides quick relaxation in just a few steps
- Lie on your back on a mat, stretch out your arms and legs, or sit relaxed in a chair
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose
- Hold your breath for 4 to 7 seconds
- Exhale through your mouth