Power Napping Need Not Be Sapping
When I was in college, I was exhausted. Yes, we stayed up too late at night, but even on the nights when I went to bed at 10:30, I was tired during the day. So tired, in fact, that I had trouble concentrating on my reading and writing assignments.
A wise counselor suggested that I take a 5 minute nap every hour.
This sounded just about impossible, but it also sounded quite glorious -- a nap was just what I felt like I needed, and the break in studying was more than welcome.
Why impossible? Because it seemed unlikely that I would actually fall asleep within the 5 minutes, let alone be ready to get up again.
But despite the hypothetical challenges, I tried it.
I don't recall now, 40 years later, just how long it took me to perfect the art of instant sleep and instant reawakening, but it wasn't long.
Once I got the knack of it, I'd lie down, close my eyes, and in exactly 5 minutes reawaken. And best of all, reawaken refreshed.
I think most of us have had the experience of taking an hour-long nap only to awaken groggy and out of sorts for the rest of the day, maybe even with a headache.
These mini-naps are different. Instead of sapping me of my consciousness, they give it back to me.
Yes, I still take these naps now, whenever I have the need. On long trips, I stop frequently to take these 5 minute minis, and I always wake refreshed for the road. And there are some days when I need them to revitalize my day. It's a glorious thing to know that I will wake refreshed, not groggy.
So how does one get started? Here are some tips:
1. Expect success! Even if you hate the way you feel after naps, know that this kind is different!
2. If you like, put on some music. I'm pretty sure having music going helps me from sinking into complete unconsciousness. But I also know I don't need it, as in the car. Try it both ways if you like.
3. Lie down with the full knowledge that if you fall asleep you will be able to wake yourself up at the 5 minute mark. It's best not to set an alarm, but if you need to the first few times, go ahead. (Most people who do this find they wake up just before the alarm to turn it off.) The reason I don't recommend an alarm is that it's a terrible jolt to the nervous system when it goes off, and who needs that?
4. Close your eyes and go with the flow.
5. Get up after the 5 minutes, even if you haven't slept.
6. Do this every day you can, but no more than 5 minutes.
7. Enjoy the refreshment, and practice often.
That's it. It's lifechanging, delightful, and effective, and the price is right.