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How To Take An Effective Nap To Super Boost Your Productivity

How To Take An Effective Nap To Super Boost Your Productivity
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“Sleep when you’re dead.” I’ve heard this more times than I can count. The idea is that you’ll have plenty of time to sleep when you die, so don’t waste your time while your alive.

Napping and sleeping in general has become a sign of laziness or weakness. We should be willing, society says, to forego sleep in an effort to keep going, keep working, keep doing.

But sleep and napping specifically, can actually make you a better and more productive person overall. In fact, some companies are installing nap rooms. In fact, research on pilots at NASA showed that a 26-minute nap in flight (while a co-pilot was on duty) enhanced performance by 34% and overall alertness by 54%.

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So, get comfy, lean back and get a few winks. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you’ll feel after — and ready to keep working.

Take Off Your Shoes

This is really essential. Taking off your shoes will help you get in a comfier state of mind and if you aren’t laying there thinking about how you still have your shoes on, your much more likely to get to sleep quickly.

Lay Down

Laying down for a nap tells your body that you are ready to sleep. Sleep is essential for “resetting” your brain and getting you ready for the rest of your day. It also takes about 50 percent longer to fall asleep sitting up. So it’s much better to just lay down and go right to sleep – especially if you’re on a schedule.

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“Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap,” said Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley who studies the effects of sleep and napping.

Use a Blanket

Or a coat or something to snuggle under. Because sleeping lowers your metabolism, you can get chilled while you’re sleeping. Use a blanket to keep you cozy and sleeping the whole time you’re taking your nap.

Limit Your Napping Time

Aim for a nap of between 20 and 45 minutes. Naps of this length will help you feel refreshed, yet keep you from feeling groggy. A nap of about 90 minutes in length can also boost your creativity. Much longer, though, and you’ll feel groggy and possibly have trouble acclimating back into your day for a little while.

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Nap After Lunch

Our bodies are predisposed to sleep after lunch – which is likely why were are so sleepy after lunch, regardless of what we’ve eaten. In a U.C. Berkeley sleep study, “At 2 p.m., the nap group took a 90-minute siesta while the no-nap group stayed awake. Later that day, at 6 p.m., participants performed a new round of learning exercises. Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn.”

Remember, just because people in the U.S. sleep only at night, doesn’t mean that’s how our bodies are meant to function. Many cultures sleep shorter at night and incorporate a short nap into the day. This helps you get more accomplished all day long, instead of just during the 8 or 10 hours you spend at work.

Set an Alarm

Don’t waste your time trying to wake up any other way. If you need to do something at a certain time — pick up your child from school, go to a meeting, or whatever, then set an alarm and make sure you’ll hear it. Most cell phones have alarm functions and you can even set them to go off again if you need them to.

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Eliminate Guilt

Don’t let cultural expectations or societal standards dictate your need for sleep. If you need to sleep, sleep. Work it in to your schedule so that you can sleep when you need to and still perform your job or other responsibilities effectively. There is no reason why needing to sleep should make you feel guilty. Everyone needs to, whether they admit or not. It’s way better to get some sleep and keep going then to just lay around and watch TV at the end of the day — not doing anything useful because you’re too tired to do anything else.

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Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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