If you think a nap is a nap is a nap, we’ve got news for you.
Naps vary in length, intensity and function.
There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of different nap styles. Some already have cachet (see: The Power Nap), while others are sneaking their way into our culture (see: The Coffee Nap).
The bottom line: Determining which style is right for you can result in real benefits, like improved alertness and energy throughout the day.
Here’s our hot list of the latest in napcore.
THE COFFEE NAP
Let’s start with the coffee nap. This type of nap recommends you drink caffeine before lying down for a rest. It sounds contradictory in nature. Why would you consume a stimulant intended to keep you awake and alert before trying to sleep? Well, studies show that by doing this, you’ll not only get the benefits of a quick nap, but you’ll also increase the effectiveness of the caffeine. When used together, and correctly, coffee and sleep can provide a speedy boost of rejuvenation during midday lulls. The technique stipulates drinking a cup of coffee followed by a 20-minute rest. The reasoning: It takes about 20 minutes to metabolize your coffee from the moment you take a sip.
The nano-nap is the briefest interval of sleep. We’re talking 10 to 20 seconds. It’s the moment when you pass out during the 3 p.m. meeting before your neck recoils to bring you back to life. You might know it better as the toilet nap, when you doze off briefly while escaping long work hours in the bathroom. No sleep study has concluded there’s a benefit to these. Sorry, you should have gotten more sleep.
THE MICRO-NAP AND MINI-NAP
Micro-naps range from two to five minutes and have been shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness. Bump them into the five- to 20-minute window and welcome to mini-nap land. This interval of sleep increases alertness, stamina, motor learning and motor performance. That’s a long list of benefits. Next time you’re thinking about how to burn 10 minutes during the day, make sure you give a quick micro-nap the proper consideration. It’s sure to do more for you than mindlessly browsing the same three websites you’ve read all day.
THE POWER NAP (OR THE COFFEE NAP MINUS COFFEE)
The original power nap hits the sweet spot right at 20 minutes. Think of it as a coffeeless coffee nap. Even without caffeine, it helps improve muscle memory and long-term memory — and retains the benefits of both the mini-nap and micro-nap. Scroll up in case you forgot.
THE LAZY MAN’S NAP
The lazy man’s nap is considerably longer. You’re going to have to cut out an hour to 90 minutes of your day for this one. However, if you can afford to, you’ll reap the extra rewards. Some argue it can mimic the benefits of a full night’s sleep. Benefits like perceptual processing and repairing bones and muscles, plus all the detailed benefits of the previous lengths. We have no illusions about the ease of finding close to two hours during the day to go to sleep, but in the circumstance you can, it’s a remarkably productive way to spend your time.
SO, WHO NAPS?
A lot of people. Normal people, famous people, athletes, politicians, inventors. Thomas Edison attributed much of his energy to frequent naps during the day. John F. Kennedy broke up his day with a nap to alleviate on-the-job stress.
I nap. I fancy myself a nice power nap around 2 p.m. before picking up steam and finishing off the workday with some liveliness. It comes down to being honest about your work-life responsibilities and recognizing when and how you can utilize naps as a healthful and productive exercise during the day. Napping isn’t an indicator of laziness. In fact, it’s a testament to self-awareness and knowing the best way to keep your mind and body functioning at high levels.
Don’t be ashamed of the nap. Embrace it. And now that you’ve gained this new area of expertise, use it to your advantage.
Naptime will never be the same.
Originally published October 2016