Is an Afternoon Nap a Good Idea When Working From Home?
Wellness

Is an Afternoon Nap a Good Idea When Working From Home?

You’re working from home, although maybe it was unexpectedly thrust on you by COVID 19. The kids are home from school, your partner is also working from home and things are a little hectic (to say the least)

On the upside, your team leader is being very flexible and your schedule is your own. Their main concern is not when you work, but whether the work gets done at standards that meet or exceed expectations.

Given that not only are you doing your job but you are also trying to amuse/homeschool kids and keep the household together you are intrigued by those who say they find themselves energized by napping. So here’s a tantalizing question: should you nap during the day?

The National Sleep Foundation, noting that many Americans are seriously sleep deprived, concludes that napping can be beneficial for most mammals—um, humans included. In fact, the organization offers three categories of naps: planned napping, emergency napping, and habitual napping. If you work at home and nap during the day, your snoozes likely fall into the categories of planned or emergency naps.

Short naps of 15 to 20 minutes (30 minutes max!), known in some quarters as “power naps,” can do wonders (for some) to recharge energy and keep performance at its peak for the rest of your day.

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The power of naps is well documented, not only in the medical community, but in cultures where an afternoon siesta (always post-lunch!) is embraced as downright good for you—and by extension, good for your employer.

Sleeping at work has become an accepted way to take a break at companies that provide sleep pods and “snooze-friendly” policies for workers looking to refresh with a nap. In the world of working at home, whether or not you should take an afternoon nap may depend on your employer and your level of flexibility.

When considering the pros and cons of napping, you might consider not only your work circumstances, but your own personal circadian rhythm.

Taking both sides into account, here are some thoughts about whether it’s good (or bad) to nap during the day:

Pros:

Increase focus, alertness, and creativity.

Research indicates that light napping can benefit alertness, boost mental performance, and sharpen your focus for the rest of your work day. Many dedicated nappers find that after their afternoon sleep time, they can tap into creativity in a more productive way.

Boost your mood and memory.

If you’re inclined toward grumpiness in the afternoon, or likely to reach for a snack to eat your way out of an afternoon slump, a short nap may help eliminate those crutches. One study concluded that a nap during the day may improve your memory by 33%.

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Decrease accidents and mistakes.

According to Psychology Today, the power of the nap can go a long way toward keep workers mentally sharp, especially those who work unusual or night shifts. Workers who nap can help eliminate late-afternoon drowsiness because of improved alertness and better cognitive performance.

Cons:

Overdoing it.

Napping beyond a maximum 30-minute time frame can shift your snooze from beneficial to detrimental. Going too deep or too long with your nap can lead to sleep inertia, grogginess, and diminished work productivity. Here’s where you have to be the judge.

Missed deadlines.

Timing is everything. Before you settle down for a nap during the day, make sure you’ve checked your schedule to ensure you’re not missing important meetings, deadlines, or other work-related demands.

Delayed or interrupted nighttime sleep.

If you’re experimenting with a nap during the day and discover that it disrupts your nighttime sleep routine, naps may not be for you. Before you abandon naps entirely, make sure you’re not waiting too late in your work day for your afternoon snooze; a later naptime could encroach upon your sleep hours later in the evening.

Tips for a good nap during the day if you work from home:

  • Remember: naps are short. An afternoon nap is a light snooze, not a deep slumber. Embark on your work-break nap with the idea that it’s just a short, easy rest for your mind and body, not an hours-long, restorative “farewell and good night.” sleep
  • Create a “nap sanctuary.” Taking an afternoon nap is far different from bedding down for the night. Avoid crawling deep into bed and drawing the covers over your head. Instead, consider napping at your desk. Turn off lights, draw the blinds, and cradle your head on your forearms. Or take a break away from your desk and recline on a comfortable chair or sofa.
  • Minimize noise as much as possible and set a comfortable temperature.
  • Don’t rely on napping as a way to make up for overall sleep deprivation. If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, don’t assume that a nap during the day is the way to repay your sleep debt. Instead, set yourself up with healthy sleep habits and good sleep hygiene to achieve a well-rounded sleep routine, both day and night.
  • Keep a sleep diary. Keeping a sleep diary for at least two weeks can help you determine the overall quality of your sleep habits and whether or not you choose to take a nap during the day. A sleep diary can help you determine if naps help, or hurt, your overall quality of restfulness and productivity.
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