If only we could lounge around all day like cats — loafing about, slowly getting through the day, and draping our bodies on a variety of surfaces as we get some restorative shut-eye. It sounds like a dream. Unfortunately, society dictates a different reality.
For most people, the day looks a lot less relaxing:
- Groaning loudly as your phone repeatedly beeps for you to wake up
- Hitting snooze and sleeping for 9 more minutes
- Peeling yourself out of bed to start your day
- Slogging through the day, relying on caffeinated products
- Trying to power off at the end of the day while emails beckon or crying children (or pets) beg for your attention
Modern life is actively hostile towards those who require more than a couple of hours of sleep to feel recharged — which, by the way, is most humans.
If getting enough rest is a difficult, power napping may be the answer.
Below, we take a look at the benefits of taking quick daytime naps and outline some of the best products to help you maximize your mini sleep sessions.
Why power nap?
Ideally, a power nap boosts your energy levels without leaving you groggy. The short duration of a power nap ensures you don’t slip too deeply into sleep and wake up feeling discombobulated.
You might be skeptical about the life-hacking benefits of a power nap, but there’s research showing that taking short, daytime naps can have a positive impact on energy levels, memory, and more.
One 2020 studyTrusted Source found that participants who took a 90-minute nap in the afternoon had improved memory function compared to those who skipped the catnap. Another 2020 studyTrusted Source concludes that daytime napping may have a positive effect on heart health.
Research also suggests that napping may help with fatigue related to intense cognitive thinking. That morning burst of work takes a lot of brainpower, leaving you feeling exhausted. But a nap might fix that.
A small 2005 studyTrusted Source of 10 university students found that short naps of less than 1.5 hours improved alertness and performance — as long as the nap involved at least 3 minutes of stage 2 sleep.
Napping might also help athletic performance. A very small 2020 study with nine participants found that napping may help protect against performance loss caused by sleep deprivation.
Another study found that taking a quick 20-minute nap helped improve muscle strength in sleep-deprived soccer players. Although, the nap didn’t completely reverse the effects of sleep deprivation.
A lot of the recent research on napping uses small sample sizes, so it’s difficult to say for sure whether the results apply to a larger population. More research could help us fully understand the potential benefits of power napping.
We ask Lesley Stahl, Alyssa Milano, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and more in our Live Town Hall: COVID-19 One Year Retrospective on Thursday, March 11.
Products to power nap like a pro
- $ = under $15
- $$ = $15–$30
- $$$ = over $30
Power snuggle yourself to sleep with a weighted blanket
Waowoo Weighted Blanket
- Price: $$$
Weighted blankets can be an effective tool for reducing symptoms of anxiety and helping people with various mental health conditions — including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — sleep better.
If you’re not getting good sleep because of these conditions, a weighted blanket can be an amazing tool for helping you sneak in a nap during the day.
The Waowoo Weighted Blanket is available in multiple sizes and weights. Reviewers say the blanket helps them sleep and feel relaxed. Even light sleepers find the blanket helpful for getting adequate shut-eye.
An eye mask can help you block out light
MZOO Sleep Eye Mask
- Price: $
Light is the enemy of sleep. Exposure to light at night can impact sleep quality, so it makes sense that napping in a bright space might affect the quality of your power nap.
This eye mask from MZOO is a best-seller on Amazon. Reviewers say it effectively blocks out light, and they love the adjustable strap to keep it secure.
The mask is also contoured with concave spaces for your eyes. So, if you wear eye makeup, your midday nap won’t mess with your lashes.
Keep your room dark with blackout curtains
Amazon Basics Room Darkening Blackout Window Curtains
- Price: $$
Blackout curtains are ideal for darkening a space you plan to regularly nap in. You can add them to your bedroom, too, to block out ambient light that keeps you up at night.
Double up on room darkening accessories with these blackout curtains from Amazon Basics. They block light and UV rays. They also dampen noise, which is helpful if your window faces a busy street.
Reviewers say the curtains completely block light and agree that they’re excellent quality for the price. Just be careful when washing and drying them — some people say their curtains didn’t hold up, even when they followed care instructions.
Cut out noise with a pair of earplugs
Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs
- Price: $
A noisy environment can completely wreckTrusted Source your napping plans. While some people can easily doze off while a party is happening, most of us aren’t so lucky. Blocking out noise with earplugs increases your chances of getting in a restful afternoon power nap.
Pop in a pair of Mack’s earplugs to quiet your environment while you take a quick nap. The soft foam plugs are comfortable and effectively block out noise with a noise reduction rating of 33 decibels.
These earplugs come in a big jug, so you’ll have plenty on hand for all your napping and sleeping needs.
Avoid disruptions with a “do not disturb” sign
Fun Plus Sleeping Sign for Door
- Price: $
You know you need a nap, but the rest of your household might be clueless.
If you can’t find peace, try putting one of these signs on your office or bedroom door. You won’t have to signal your napping intentions every single time you decide to doze off for a power nap.
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