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Nechama Brodie is a South African journalist and researcher. She is the author of six books, including two critically acclaimed urban histories of Johannesburg and Cape Town. She works as the head of training and research at TRI Facts, part of independent fact-checking organisation Africa Check, and is completing a PhD in data methodology and media studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Ariana Huffington may have taken napping mainstream in her book The Sleep Revolution – her new wellness company, Thrive, even includes what she calls 'recharge rooms' (other companies call them nap pods) – but she certainly wasn't the first to work out the exponential value of a true power nap.
Over the last few decades, doctors and researchers have been testing a number of variables to see how adult humans might combat our modern 'sleep debt', the cumulative effect of too many nights of too little sleep (or poor quality sleep), combined with constant deadlines, and so on, and how to offset the side-effects of this sleep deficit: tiredness, lack of concentration, even weight gain. Enter the power nap.
But what exactly is a 'power nap', and what kind of nap is the best kind to offset tiredness, increase alertness, and maybe even pay off some of that looming sleep debt? Or, the flipside question: is there a wrong kind of nap? The answer to this latter question is decidedly yes (anyone who ever planned a 'short' nap and accidentally wound up sleeping for three hours in the afternoon will know how that can ruin any work you planned, and upset your entire night's sleep).
With this in mind, the team at YLM sports science prepared an excellent infographic giving you all the advice you need to have an epic power nap without messing it up! First, find a good place to nap. Then, have a cup of coffee (yes, you heard right; caffeine takes 20 minutes or more to kick in, so you want to drink this just before you sleep – and then the coffee boost will hit shortly after you wake up). Next, set an alarm on your phone. You want to sleep for not longer than 20 minutes, otherwise 'sleep inertia' (when it takes longer to wake up from the nap than the nap itself) will take effect. If this sounds crazy, try it a few times. It really works. Finally, switch off your phone or put it on silent, and rest. When you wake up, wash your face or open the curtains if it's light outside.