How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Naptime Ritual

So, like an Argonaut to a Siren, I was lulled into dozing off. The perfect trap was set by a decade of working from home and afternoon energy slumps, and now that I’ve started, I don’t intend to stop. Napping became a source of self-care for me after I learned that I didn’t lose productivity and that midday naps actually increased my energy. But it took some time for me to master it.

Set aside time to accept failure.

The best napping advise I found was to accept that you might not fall asleep. Because it’s still a time to decompress and be alone and quiet even if you aren’t sleeping. I’d gotten frustrated by my inability to fall asleep soon enough, and I’d become so worried that the nap was rendered useless. Instead, I’ve started setting a timer for 30 minutes, and even if I just lie there breathing gently, it’s still better than the alternative.

Allow yourself to be lulled to sleep.

One of the most difficult aspects of napping on a schedule is quieting an overly active mind. It’s all too easy to obsess and stress, and it’s all too easy to spend half an hour searching through your mind’s garbage instead of unplugging. Some people find that listening to an audiobook or a podcast helps them sleep, but I get too caught up in whatever they’re discussing and end up staying up late to find out what happens next. Fortunately, I realized that most mindfulness classes knock me out during a semi-regular attempt at meditation. I also like Sleepfulness and the free Oak app (iOS only). Slowing my breathing and focusing on physical sensations often helps me fall asleep, regardless of whether I’m using a sleep-focused session or a conventional one.

Set the tone.

Things that make you feel at ease and allow you to nap will almost certainly differ from those utilized by others. I’m on team “in bed, with the shades drawn, and still dressed for the day.” A sleep mask, ear plugs, a white noise machine, blackout curtains, weighted blankets, or pajamas may be useful. However, the most efficient way for enhancing sleep that I’ve discovered is to ensure that no one in your living space disturbs you. So that your partner or roommates don’t bother you when you’re sleeping, let them know you’re sleeping. Also, while children aren’t known for respecting quiet time, we do have some tips on how to get them to sleep here. Also, make sure your phone is set to “do not disturb.” You can also learn more about how to set up your bedroom to prevent noise and light more permanently.

Power naps and caffeine

If you’re extremely fatigued and just have a short amount of time to rest, you can boost the effectiveness of your naps by combining them with coffee. Although it may seem paradoxical, if you drink your coffee, tea, or whatever you’re drinking shortly before your nap and timing it correctly (approximately 20 minutes), the energy boost will hit you right when you wake up. Despite the fact that the studies are tiny, there is some evidence that this strategy works. When I have some downtime before a late night—New Year’s Eve, a midnight movie, or heading out for drinks—I’ve found this strategy to be useful over the years (back when that was still a thing). If you have a caffeine sensitivity or have difficulties falling asleep at night, you should try this later in the afternoon or avoid it completely.

Keep it short and sweet.

Sleep inertia is that groggy feeling you get after a lengthy slumber, the “where am I, why does my mouth feel like cotton, what day is it?” feeling that comes all at once. This negative effect is usually more severe after a long nap than after a short one. I’ve discovered that 30 minutes is the perfect amount of time for me. This amount of time allows me to relax and fall asleep for a few minutes, but it’s not so short that I don’t feel relaxed, nor is it so long that my body is inclined to go into full overnight sleep mode.

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