We've all been there: You’re working at your desk around 2 p.m. and you feel that early afternoon wave of exhaustion—but why? And what can you do about it?
Well, Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, has the ideal set-up for a perfect nap—and surprisingly, it involves one of our favorite things: a cup of coffee!
We generally feel the most fatigued about seven hours after waking up, Pink explains. For most people, this is between 2 and 3 p.m, he says. If you can, he recommends fitting in a short nap during this time. “Naps are like Zambonis for our brain,” Pink says. “During the day, we’ve got all these nicks and scuffs on our mental ice and a nap comes along and smoothes it all out.”
But that doesn’t mean you should zonk out for two hours! (This is where the coffee comes into play!)
Pink says that short naps, between 10 to 20 minutes, are the most effective. Anything longer than that can result in sleep inertia, which is that yucky groggy feeling you get when you’ve slept too long. The secret to a great nap involves drinking a cup of coffee before you lay down, which will leave you feeling refreshed once you get up!
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Here are Pink’s recommendations for a perfect “nappuccino,” aka a coffee nap:
1. Create a peaceful environment. Pink uses ear plugs or headphones with white noise, an eye mask, and posts up in a comfy chair or couch.
2. Drink the aforementioned cup of coffee right before your nap. Caffeine doesn’t kick in for 20 minutes, so you’ll be helping your future self by letting those effects kick in right when you’re waking up.
3. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Anything over five minutes works, but you don’t want to go past 30 minutes. 25 minutes gives you just enough time to nod off and still have a restful snooze.
4. Finally, repeat regularly! Research shows that habitual nappers get more from their naps than occasional nappers.