- If You Haven’t Been Sleeping Well… Here’s How to Change It!
- How to Hack Your Sleep – Sleep Less, Do More, Feel Better: Part 1
- How to Hack Your Sleep – Sleep Less, Do More, Feel Better: Part 2
- How to Hack Your Sleep – Sleep Less, Do More, Feel Better: Part 3
In part 1 of this series, we talked about why using and recognizing our natural tendencies as sleep-deprived humans can help us get more sleep, feel better, and get more done. Sleeping is great, and looking at what we need out of it–namely, what benefits we’d like to receive from our sleep–we can use different times of the day to enter into REM sleep, Stage 3, or another stage of sleep. These different stages help benefit us in different ways, all covered in last week’s post.
This particular post will talk more about how to nap–the different methods and ways to enter into a state of awesome, sleep-filled bliss!
Getting to sleep
After you’ve figured out when to nap, you’ll need to figure out how long to nap and how to do it. I’ll save you the hassle of the first one—a 30-minute nap should be all you need, once you get the hang of it and can fall asleep right away, but you can stretch this up to around 1.5 to 2 hours.
As far as taking the nap, it’s important to know that most people you talk to about all of this will scoff, using their unbelievably over-hyped schedules and superlative-ridden descriptions of their to-do lists to explain their disdain for napping. “I don’t have time to nap,” they’ll cry, “you must be so whimsically free, that you would have time for such a luxury.”
After you show them this post and convince them of the benefits, and that Winston Churchill himself proclaimed the amazing benefits of regular, daily napping, you’ll be able to steal away in peace and catch some z’s for yourself. As he wrote in his six-volume memoir of the World War II years:
“Nature had not intended mankind to work from 8 in the morning until midnight without the refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts 20 minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces” JOSEPH CARDIERI Brooklyn, Sept. 15, 1989
Figure out your ideal naptime and how to make sure you won’t be interrupted. Here are a few tips:
- Find that cozy, dark place. I have a hard time falling asleep with a light on at night, so if you’re trying to catch some shuteye in a brightly lit office, good luck.
- Eliminate distractions. Turn off your phone, email dinger, and any other electronics that could wake you up—again, if you’re in an office, consider putting up a temporary “no soliciting: punishable by death” sign on your cubicle.
- Get warm. I’ve found—even as a strapping, hairy, macho-man—I need to be more warm than normal to fall asleep quickly. While I like to crank the AC down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit at night, I’d never get to sleep in those conditions for a nap.
If you have the benefit of working from home, or have an extended lunch break during which you’d be able to get home, go all out—take off the shoes, clothes, whatever, and get under the covers of your own bed. There’s no reason to “cheat” and sleep on the couch since it’s not a “real” sleep session.
I’ve used naps in the past to provide energy, focus, and motivation, all while maintaining a 9-to-5 day job, writing a book, and running a business on the side. Naps are great, but only if they’re entered into with a specific determination to use them to the maximum benefit possible. We don’t get to choose which stages of sleep we’ll get out of a nap, for the most part, as our brains and bodies tell us that on their own. However, we can use the guidelines here and in Dr. Mednick’s book to ensure that we’re getting the most gain out of our short naps as possible!
Let me know if you have questions, or if you have some experience with napping!
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series, “How to Hack Your Sleep.”
Did you miss the first part? Read Part 1 here.