It’s Power nap time! How to have power naps at work

An illustration of a woman getting one of her power naps at work

Okay, I’ll give you an insight into why I have decided it’s power nap time for me … at least trying it out in the short term. I’ve been wanting to get up earlier. Much earlier. So I’ve decided to consider having some power naps at work. Which is great for me because I work at home.

I know, however, that this is not the case for everyone. Power naps at work, when you’re not based in Silicon Valley but work full time, might be frowned upon or seem a bit awkward.

So, in this article, I’m going to talk a bit about the benefits of a power nap, the chances you can make for yourself to actually get a power nap at work, and how long your power nap time should be.

A bit of background on why I think it is power nap time for me

As I said, I want to get up early. But I’ve always had sleep anxiety. I worry about getting too little sleep, and guess what? I end up getting very little downtime as a result. Couple that with some long-term stomach issues, and it is not unusual for me to have a night where I only have a handful of hours sleep. Only getting an hour or two is no surprise for me anymore.

Perhaps, because my office is only a foot from the bedroom door, I can get up later to compensate. But that means I start going to bed later and later. And I just don’t feel very good when that happens.

This problem was twice as bad when I worked away from home in salaried employment.

All that means you have my sympathies if you find yourself tired in the middle of a working day. That’s why I looked into making power naps suitable for people in office-based full-time positions.

What are the benefits of power naps at work?

There are a number of benefits when it comes to getting a power nap at work. What surprises me is how often notions such as power naps get frowned upon by corporates – but then many miss the ball spectacularly on crucial matters. All you are doing is getting your brain working at full power again.

Harvard Medical School has said that in recent years the sigma of taking power naps at work is being eroded. Initially, much of the research on power naps linked it to poor health conditions. They say now, however, that researchers are starting to think that taking some power nap time is a good idea after all.

One thing they emphasise is the usefulness of power nap time when dealing with the infamous “afternoon hump”. This is the sleepy moment many get towards the latter end of the working day. They say it is actually programmed into many people’s sleep cycle.

Naps, however, were more effective than caffeine and a longer night’s sleep in combating this insidious productivity gremlin.

How long should your power nap time be?

This is the bit which surprised me – according to some experts, power nap time can actually be tailored to what sort of results you want. I think if big business understood this, they might be more than happy to allow power naps at work.

A power nap time of 20 minutes, for example, will sharpen up motor skills for things like typing and playing the piano. Napping 30-60 minutes will boost decision-making skills. But what if you want to go that extra mile creatively? Apparently that requires a 60-90 minute sleep time.

That said, Harvard’s experts warn against longer power nap time. They say it can lead to inertia and grogginess.

How and where to have power naps at work

If you don’t work for a cutting-edge Palo Alto firm, or for yourself, then this is where it gets tricky. That said, there have been some devious tactics employed by some who want to get their much-needed power nap time.

The obvious answer is that if you have your own office you’re in the clear! Just shut the door, put a do-not-disturb up and away you go. Booking a conference room out is another way to go.

Over at Inc., Geoffrey James employed every trick in the book before finally getting out of corporate life – he says you can park your car around the corner and nap there, strategically position yourself in your cubicle, or even nap under your desk. He’s got away with all of them when it comes to taking power naps at work.