WORK-LIFE BALANCE / MAY. 09, 2016
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5 Tips for Sneaking a Power Nap at Work

It’s 3 o’clock, and we all know what that means: it’s time for the afternoon slump! Your productivity levels begin to drop, and you can barely keep your eyes open – in fact, work is the last thing you want to do right now; you’d much rather take a nap.

Sadly, however, you don’t work at Google, Nike, Zappos, or any other company that allows napping on the job, and you don’t work in Japan where they’ve embraced their sleepiness in the workplace with the concept of inemuri (or sleeping while present). It’s just simply not an option for many of us and, quite frankly, it’s a first-class ticket to the unemployment office.

But there’s still hope for you. You can still enjoy a little nap at work, even if company policy strictly prohibits it – you just need to be a little crafty about it. To help you pull it off à la James Bond-style, we’ve compiled a list of five great tips that will let you sneak in a few Zs at the office and keep your job at the same time.

See Also: How to Sleep Your Way to Success [Infographic]

1. Find the Perfect Spot

This is obviously the first thing you need to consider if you’re planning to get some shuteye in the office, especially if it’s frowned upon, i.e.: not allowed. You could schedule a meeting in a conference room (by “meeting”, we actually mean a nap), in your car (that you parked far away from the building), or perhaps in your office (if it’s private enough).

You could even head to the restroom (each office usually has a restroom that isn’t particularly frequented, especially if it’s located at the back of the building or in a lightly populated area). But, we don’t quite recommend this, considering how smelly it can be when the neighboring cubicle is suddenly occupied by someone who had curry for lunch. Yes, we know: gross.

2. Take it on Your Lunch Break

Man falling asleep while eating
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The great thing about your lunch break is that you can spend it however you wish to. You could use it to have lunch at your desk (even though your boss might encourage you to step away from your workstation); send out a few important e-mails; participate in a bidding war on eBay; meet up with buddies at a café round the corner; finish a report that has a fast-approaching deadline; or catch up on your beauty sleep.

Whether you have half an hour or a full hour, you have plenty of time to squeeze in a sneaky power nap, provided you have selected a good location for your snooze where you won’t get caught (which, as we established earlier, might not be your office’s restroom). Meanwhile, if you do get caught sleeping during your lunch break, chances are there’ll be a smaller price to pay (if any) than if you were to fall asleep during an important business meeting with a VIP client.

3. Set an Alarm

Man hitting alarm clock with hammer
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A joint study by the Case Western Reserve University and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital tested four nap time spans (5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes) and concluded that a “10-minute nap produced improvements in all outcomes (including sleep latency, subjective sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance), with some of these benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes”. A 30-minute nap can also be beneficial, although the study found that a period of impaired alertness and performance would follow immediately after waking up. Anything more than that, meanwhile, and you’ll end up entering deep sleep and feeling incredibly groggy when you finally wake up.

So, to get some much-needed and well-deserved shuteye, and to reap the rewards when you wake up with your productivity levels shooting through the roof, make sure you time your power nap at 10 minutes. I mean, how many times have you lied down for a 30-minute nap or so, only to wake up four hours later? Exactly. And that’s why it’s important to set an alarm or two (or five, if you’re a heavy sleeper). It’s safe to assume that you don’t want to oversleep and wake up when everybody’s left the office for the day (or worse: the weekend) because it’s highly likely you won’t be able to take another nap at the office.

4. Drink Coffee (Before Your Nap)

Woman waking up and drinking coffee
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This may sound counterintuitive, especially considering how coffee supposedly wakes you up and gets the engine going. While that is true, caffeine doesn’t have an immediate effect – in fact, it takes about 10 minutes for its invigorating effects to start kicking in which is perfect because that’s how long the ideal power nap should be. Researchers at the University of Barcelona also found that even decaffeinated coffee produces an increased state of alertness.

So, before you take that much-needed nap, have a cup of coffee, and you’ll be ready to take the bull by the horns when you wake up 10 minutes later. You’ll also completely avoid the grogginess that comes with waking up.

5. Block Out Outside Lights and Sounds

Woman sleeping with sleep mask
Shutterstock

Some people can fall asleep in mere seconds, and in the loudest and strangest of places if my SO has taught me anything (he’s practically narcoleptic). For others (myself included), it takes a lot longer than that, and the conditions need to be just right: noise has to be at a bare minimum and it should, ideally, be as dark as possible.

But, not many of us keep a pair of earplugs or an eye mask in our desk drawer, so you might need to be a little creative with blocking out all the light and sound that come with working in an office environment. You could, for example, cover your face with a sweatshirt or something to block out the bright office lights, and listen to soft music on your headphones that will help drown out the noise of phones ringing and colleagues arguing. You could even use a cool app like Pzizz (available for iOS and Android devices) which helps you get to sleep faster and get more restful Zs.

See Also: Creative Ways to Take a Nap at Work

Have you ever sneaked a power nap at work? Do you regularly get away with some shuteye between sending out emails and attending meetings? Tell us in the comments section below, along with any tips and tricks you have to share, and don’t forget to share this article with family and friends looking for ways to take a nap in the middle of the workday!

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