Opinion: The Power of a 20-Minute Midday Nap

Sufyan Maan, M.Eng

According to the CDC, around 33% of adults and more than 73% of high school students are sleep deprived in the US.

Research also shows that a lack of sleep both in quantity and quality can increase the risk of accidents, and several health problems.

Sleep is the best medication. — Dalai Lama

I am a firm believer that there are three main pillars of good health.

i) Good sleep (quality & quantity)
ii) Good Food (1–3 cups of vegetables daily+ …)
iii) Good exercise (at least 155 minutes of moderate exercise each week)

It's like a tripod if one leg is missing, it's hard to keep your balance in life.

Young children are the king of napping for so many great reasons. Study shows that adults can also get benefits from taking power naps during hectic days.

Here is a couple of napping benefits for adults:

  1. A power nap can help to boost mood
  2. Help to reduce tiredness
  3. A great way to increase mental ability
  4. Best way to reduce muscle soreness
  5. Short naps can also help to boost nighttime sleep
  6. Improve your heart health

Naptime

It's a highly debatable topic, everyone has a unique situation based on their body needs. I prefer to take nap for 15–20 minutes after lunchtime. I leverage the home-office set up to have a peaceful nap.

Many researchers suggest that if you do not have any sleep disorder insomnia etc) a 5–30 minutes short nap is the best. Researchers also suggest that a nap longer than 30 minutes is considered sleep.

I observed if I take a nap longer than 30 minutes but less than 7–8 hours, I always felt groggy and had a hard time focusing.

On the other side, a max of 20 minutes of nap helped me to regain my focus. and energy.

I highly suggest incorporating a short nap into your daily routine to increase your alertness and cognitive functions.

The optimal nap time falls under 30 minutes.

The best time to take a nap

The ideal nap time depends on your work schedule. Some people work long night shifts and some in the morning, it also depends on your body's needs.

I prefer to take a nap when I feel a dip in my energy around 2–3 pm.

A 20-minute nap always helps me to recharge my energy. I simply use the ”Hey Siri” feature on my iPhone to set a 21-minute timer.

Warning: Do not schedule a nap close to your regular sleep hours. It might cause difficulty sleeping at night.

Tips to take the best nap

  • As I said, I use the “Hey Siri” feature on my iPhone to set the alarm for a max of 21 minutes. You can use Alexa, Google, or a basic alarm clock. The idea is to don't fall asleep longer than 30 minutes.
  • If you are working from home, you can just go to the bedroom which will provide you with an environment to fall asleep immediately. If you are working in the office, maybe go to a quiet space or reserve a meeting room to take a nap for a max of 20 minutes. One of my colleagues used to go to his car in the parking after taking lunch to take a power nap.
  • Maybe a sleep mask will help you to fall asleep faster.
  • Maybe using rain music in the background will help you to relax.
  • Naps are great to boost energy but for some people, they are not good, especially people with sleep disorders. Always discuss with your physician to start a new routine.

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