How I Use Naps To Stay Focused (+ the app I can't live without!)

This week has been full of so many exciting opportunities and interesting work, but I am dedicating this blog post to naps.

Yes, naps. 

More specifically, how you can hack the power nap to increase your productivity and stay focused during those sleepy afternoon lulls. 

I'll start off by saying that before last week, I tried to avoid naps at all cost. Most mornings, I am up by 4:45am, which means that I hit a wall around 1 or 2pm. A very dense, tall, brick wall with soft pillows and sweet little dreams and oh...that sounds so nice...

It became impossible to stay focused on my work and even harder to produce results of any quality. The problem was, I would settle in and tell myself I would only take a short "20 minute power nap! Go me!". The reality was that I would wake up hours later, groggy and grumpy, and was screwed for bedtime later that night. 

In my search for sleep serenity, I turned to Google, as I do with all things (literally, everything. If you've wondered about it, I've Googled it). I came across an app called Pzizz, which has a funny name but, more importantly, has completely changed the way I think about naps. In their words:

We utilize effective psychoacoustic principles to create beautiful dreamscapes that will help you fall asleep fast, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed

In my words, a soft-spoken man with a gentle and kind voice will guide you to deep relaxation using soothing sounds, designed specifically to slow your breathing and de-stress your mind. Then, when your desired nap time is up, he gently wakes you back up again and guides you through a quick stretch to help you re-join the day. It may sound silly or weird, but I swear, I woke up after my 20 minutes feeling absolutely refreshed and totally motivated to keep working. The second time I tried Pzizz, I didn't fall asleep completely, but just being in such a deep state of relaxation is so calming and healthy for your brain. I got up feeling equally as rejuvenated after only 25 minutes. 

Perhaps you don't work in an environment where you can doze off in the afternoons (and really, I'm sorry about that). Back in my nap avoidance days, here are some other tricks I would use for a quick burst of energy:

  • get moving. Go for a short walk and just take a quick break. Once you're up and walking (even just to the water cooler), you'll feel way less tired when you return to your desk
  • stretch it out. If you can't take the time to be away from your desk, at least spend a few quality minutes stretching your tense muscles to help you relax. 
  • talk to someone. Have a quick chat with a colleague or phone a friend. No matter how tired you are, you probably won't fall asleep mid-conversation, which is a bonus for your reputation because that would be embarrassing.
  • drink some water. And while you're at it, splash your face with a little cold water. It's not the most pleasant, but it's hard to feel tired when you're cold and wet. 
  • have a snack....actually, this is my answer to everything. Always have a snack.

Happy napping!