The Art of the Power Nap

As designers, developers, or quite frankly anyone else that works in front of a computer all day, we’ve all experienced the classic case of the “post-lunch sleepies.” It hits us at the most inconvenient time. That footlong ham sandwich sounded pretty good an hour ago, but now it has caught up to us, right when we’re back at our desks trying to take over the world.

So what do you do? You can try grabbing more caffeine, energy drinks or chewing gum, but sometimes that isn’t enough. How do you avoid the constant struggle to keep your eyes open and your fingers moving when the supplements aren’t working? How do you turn four hours of getting thirty minutes of work done, into four hours of actually getting four hours of work done? How do you give your mind and body the proper recharge it needs? The answer? The Power Nap!

First off, let’s set the record straight. Power Naps are not regular naps. They do not last two hours as when we were children. They are not meant for catching up on sleep, and let’s be sure to disassociate taking a Power Nap with being lazy or “checking out”. On the contrary, Power Naps are designed to give our minds and bodies a short break so we can recharge, regain focus and stay energized for the rest of our work day.

I know for myself – as a creative living in a world of deadlines, late nights and long work days – I needed an effective solution to keep me sharp. I wanted a solution that didn’t require that fifth cup of coffee or an energy drink that left me feeling shaky and sick afterward. I discovered taking a quick Power Nap was an effective way to regain the energy I needed without the garbage. Below is my six step process for mastering the art of the Power Nap. Hopefully you give one a try and see the benefits a quick snooze can do for you.

Step 1: Find a quiet place – If you actually have a nap room: awesome! Use it. If not, you can simply lean back in your desk chair, put on some headphones and block out the surrounding noise. (I highly suggest not actually listening to anything in your headphones during your nap.) Other places that might be more convenient for Power Napping could be in your car, or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, perhaps a bathroom stall (Yes, I’ve power napped in both locations before.)

Step 2: Set a timer – Like most people, you probably own a smartphone, so setting a timer couldn’t be easier. If this is your first time trying a Power Nap I would suggest setting your timer to 15 minutes as a starting point. You can adjust your time accordingly, but I wouldn’t go any less than 10 minutes and no more than 20 minutes. The goal is to not actually fall into a deep sleep, but to give your mind and body a long enough break to recharge.

Step 3: Relax – Once you’ve settled into your quiet place and started your timer, simply close your eyes and relax! Relax every part of your body. From the hairs on the top your head, all the way down to your tippy toes. You should feel no strain or discomfort at all.

Step 4: Clear your mind – This step can be extremely difficult with everything that’s going on during our busy work day, but it is crucial to the success of your Power Nap. So, take it from me: do your best to clear your mind and think of nothing.

Step 5: Stay the course – Now your job is to just rest. Do nothing else. In my experience, about ¾ of the way through your Power Nap, you should start to feel a wave of energy come across your body. Your muscles will feel less tired and heavy. You may even feel inclined to open your eyes and come out of the Power Nap before your timer goes off. If this is the case, I say go for it! Sometimes you don’t need the full allotted time to feel recharged and ready to go.

Step 6: Awaken and be refreshed – When your timer goes off, voilà! Open your eyes and you should feel re-energized and ready to tackle the world once more. If done correctly, you will be amazed at how much energy you have for the remainder of the day. Your colleagues will take notice to your high level of productivity and angels will rejoice!

Quick Tips: Taking a power nap in an office setting can be intimidating. No one wants to be caught “sleeping on the job.” For the self-conscious bunch, I suggest letting others around you know that you need a Power Nap and that you’re going to take one. Also, you can create a little “Do Not Disturb” sign to place at your desk to let others know you are in the middle of your Power Nap.

Post and Illustration by Ryan Marshall