Napping, its one of the wonders of life, nothing feels better than a good nap right? Its the same for everyone they feel great and to me they are essential especially if you have had anything but optimal sleep the previous night. A good nap has been shown to:
– Decrease Stress
– Increase Alertness and Productivity
– Boost Creativity
– Improve Mood
So what’s not to love, Lets have a look at the best way to get a good afternoon nap……
“No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.”
Step 1 – Calming the Mind
Before drifting off into the land of nod you must make sure your mind is calm and not tied up in the days events. This can sometimes be harder said than done, especially on stressful days or times your mind is in the midst of thinking….The best way to calm the mind for me is to meditate for 1-2 minutes:
– Pick and Object in the room your in and stare at it, put all your focus into it.
– Let thoughts come and go, don’t concentrate on any they will soon fizzle away
After a few minutes of this you will find your mind will have quieted down and so long as you do not provoke it by re-igniting thoughts it will stay quiet and allow you to get into a deep and peaceful nap.
Otherwise if you can its best to nap at a time where you naturally get a bit tired and your mind feels lethargic, everybody gets this feeling at some point of the day. So if your lucky enough to have the opportunity to rest during this time then take full advantage and have a short nap.
Another great technique to quiet the mind is to imagine yourself somewhere you have fond memories of. This could be a beach or a holiday that you enjoyed or felt relaxed on. Take a mental journey to that place it will put your mind at ease.
Step 2 – The Nap
Its best to limit naps to 20-30 minutes this time period will yield stage 2 sleep which allows your mind to improve its long term alertness and productivity without drifting into slow wave sleep (40 minutes plus) which will leave you awakening groggy and grouchy.
Find somewhere comfy like a sofa or a reclining seat where you can lay down and relax all the muscles in your body. Remember it takes 50% longer to drift off into a nap when sitting upright!
If noise is something thats going to get in your way, invest in some quality ear plugs or get Pzizz this is a program that I invested in a few years back and it has helped me with countless restful naps. I can’t vouch for it highly enough, it really is a great product. I also like to cover my eye’s during a nap I usually grab a light pillow and throw it over the top side of my head.
To get the best out of a nap I find its best to keep your mind extremely still, not concentrating on any thoughts. I like to focus my energy into my body feeling the waves of life going through my arms and hands, imagining I am melting into the ground. In doing this you will allow your body to rest and recover deeply.
“Set aside half an hour every day to do all your worrying; then take a nap during this period.”
– Experiment with a shot of Espresso just before you nap, it will act as an autmatic alarm clock and will leave you feeling extra alert once you get up. Its a great thing to try if your having a mid morning nap and you want a really productive afternoon.
– I have always enjoyed a light/short nap just after a hard workout. I sometimes get back from the gym, take a nap then eat once the nap is over. Its no coincidence that these have been the times of best muscle growth. Give it a try.
– Don’t feel guilty about napping, I used to feel lazy and unproductive for napping but its a very normal thing to do and something that we have evolved to do everyday. People all over Spain and Italy nap religiously everyday after lunch!
– After you get up its a good idea to take a good stretch, a good roll of the neck and cat stretch will do the trick to re-limber up your body for the day.