Yesterday I wrote about naps and some research from Daniel Pink in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Napping has a lot of benefits in terms of mental acuity and health outcomes. Unfortunately, outside of toddlers in the United States, naps have almost completely disappeared.
In my own life, I look almost longingly at nations like Spain, where afternoon siestas are a thing and people get a chance to recharge with a mid-afternoon nap. Generally, I don’t tend to be the most effective or efficient person between about 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and would likely benefit from a short nap rather than dragging through a bunch of email.
As a perfect napping solution, Pink suggests the nappuccino. In his book he writes, “Down a cup of coffee. Seriously. The most efficient nap is the nappuccino. The caffeine won’t fully engage in your bloodstream for about twenty-five minutes, so drink up right before you lie down. If you’re not a coffee drinker, search online for an alternative drink that provides about two hundred milligrams of caffeine. (if you avoid caffeine, skip this step. also reconsider your life choices.)”
Coffee right before a 20 minute nap is ideal because it takes about the time that you will be napping for the coffee to get to work. You will get the benefit of a short nap to recharge your brain and coming out of the nap you will get the stimulus benefit of the caffeine. Pink presents more research in his book which suggests that we generally have a lag coming out of our naps. We rebound and feel a level of sleep inertia that corresponds with the length of time we slept. At about 20 to 25 minutes, we avoid the sleep inertia, but once we start getting over 30 minutes, the sleep inertia kicks in, and we feel groggy and slow getting up from our nap. 20 minutes plus coffee avoids the sleep inertia and pumps us up with extra caffeine energy.
If you work from home or have a good set-up for a quick office nap, maybe give this strategy a try. If you don’t work from home and don’t have a place to nap in the office, then maybe its time to start lobbying the boss for afternoon siestas for everyone. Maybe one of us should run for president on a 6 hour work-day plus siesta platform.