Have you ever felt the need to just close your eyes during the day and drift off to la la land? For me the need presents itself immensely after I return home from a long day. As soon as I return home I tend to go straight for my room, pull the curtains, lay down, shut my eyes and go to sleep. It usually takes a couple of hours before I can pull myself up out of bed. By the time I manage to wake up the sun has set and I do not feel replenished. Instead I usually wake up with a head ache. The reason why I still feel fatigued is because I have been sleeping instead of napping.
The power nap, a term coined by Social Psychologist James Maas, is a nap that consists of a quick nip that is typically under 20 – 25 minutes. The secret is to wake up before our brain goes into slow wave sleep also known as deep sleep. When we sleep our mind may be unconscious but our brain is hard at work. The work load is divided across several stages of sleep. The early stages are all about relaxing the mind and body, it helps alleviate stress and rejuvenate our senses. The later stages are more complex as our brain works on more complicated tasks such as consolidating new memories.
In contrast, slow wave sleep is much easier to wake up from the early stages. Some people may say that they had not even fallen asleep and that is the beauty of a power nap. In order to recharge your battery you do not need to be asleep, you just need to close your eyes and achieve a state of tranquility. So no day dreaming.
The hardest part of the power nap is that we may be tempted to sleep just a little bit longer, in doing so we throw off our circadian rhythm (our biological clock) and ruin the remainder of the day as well as our chances for a good night sleep.
So time yourself, set an alarm and when it rings it is time for you to rise and shine.