Published by Claudia Giunta.
When was the last time you took a nap? Maybe it was on vacation or during a holiday season, after indulging in a decadent five-course Thanksgiving meal. Maybe you think about how you should have taken advantage of all the naps you were forced to take as a kid. If you struggle to prioritize napping and necessary breaks, we’re here to tell you how and why time off to rest and reset is important to your health.
Disconnecting from work and enjoying time outside your career is key to achieving the ideal work-life balance. However, if you’re prone to taking work home with you and struggle to switch out of the work hustle mindset at the end of the day, you may reach burnout and fail to take care of your personal health needs.
So how can you better transition to peaceful after-hours? Keep reading for some of our favorite ways to help manage lingering stress during and after the work day so you can enjoy your personal time.
Napping, when done correctly, can boost productivity and creativity, improve your mood, and reduce stress. You can avoid brain fog, daytime sleepiness, and irritable mood with a short nap that allows you to “reset.” Napping isn’t the same type of sleep we get during a full night’s sleep. It’s a restorative sleep that rests the conscious part of the brain but encourages the subconscious to get to work, inspiring productivity and creativity.
Napping doesn’t suit everyone, especially if you struggle with insomnia or sleep apnea. If you are already struggling to sleep, stick to a regular sleep schedule without naps to reduce sleep pressure.
So how do you best nap? It goes beyond just shutting your eyes and lying down. With these few tips, you’ll master the art of napping.
Keep It Short
The ideal nap duration is between 15-30 minutes. This short window prevents you from falling into a deep sleep, where grogginess and disorientation may occur. When you nap for 15-30 minutes, you enter the first and sometimes second stages of sleep, enough to refresh and increase alertness. During true sleep, you may complete all five stages of the sleep cycle a few times, which typically repeats every 90-110 minutes. The longer the nap, the deeper the sleep which makes your brain less responsive to external stimuli, increasing fatigue. That’s why short naps are perfect for resetting and enhancing your brain for productivity and mood purposes.
Nap at the Right Time
The best time to take a nap will depend on your sleep schedule, age, and other individual factors. The key is to not nap too late in the day so that it interferes with your nighttime sleep. Afternoon napping during the natural circadian dip in the mid-afternoon (1 pm- 4 pm) is the best way to rest without disturbing the sleep-wake cycle.
Create a Napping Environment
Your nap environment may not be as peaceful and quiet as it would during your nightly sleep. Construction, Slack notifications, and other noisy distractions may get in the way of your naps, but these aren’t excuses to avoid resting. Nap in a quiet, dark environment with a cool room temperature and few distractions. To fully get in the nap zone, there are a few tools to help you get more comfortable. Some suggestions include a weighted blanket, a sleep mask, a white noise machine, earplugs, and a diffuser.
Like most things in life, napping takes practice to perfect. You probably won’t get the perfect nap the first time you try. Remember that the mind loves repetition, so try again, and again, following the same consistent tips and routines each time.
You can’t turn off thinking about work tasks if you’re constantly getting distracted by notifications during your quiet hours. Whether you’re trying to get a quick nap in during the afternoon, or have officially logged out of work for the day, mute notifications so that your mental wheels temporarily stop spinning.
Constant notifications from work can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can raise your heartbeat and blood pressure, tense your muscles, and affect your critical thinking abilities. All of these high-stress symptoms are what you want to avoid when trying to relax. Silence notifications and remove yourself from your laptop to take a mental break from your work.
Engaging in hobbies entirely separate from your career can reduce stress levels, lower heart rates, and improve your overall mood. Not only do hobbies reduce stress, but they are an opportunity to tap into your creative side and connect with yourself, as well as others. We can lose track of time when doing something we enjoy (in a good way), so be sure to check the clock or set a timer if you’re pursuing a hobby during your work break. Read a chapter of a book, cook a meal, do a quick workout, journal, paint, and explore other hobbies and see how these activities can improve your mental health.
It’s easy to get caught up with work and fail to be in the present moment. Our minds can constantly be on overdrive; sometimes overthinking can lead to unproductive thoughts. This is where meditation can come in handy. Mindfulness and meditation have a profound effect on our brains, helping to provide clarity, increase focus, and decrease stress.
Meditation can even be done in the office, and some companies encourage meditation and have separate meditation or zen rooms. Even if you don’t work at one of these companies, there are ways you can incorporate meditation during your break. Here’s how:
Combining one of your work breaks with regular meditation can bring peace and productivity to your day-to-day life. If you’re new to meditation and need some resources, explore guided meditation apps such as Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer, and Online Meditation.
The health benefits of exercise are undeniable. Exercise has often been described as “medicine” and proven to manage stress. A quick workout during the day can be an easy way to reset and disconnect from your thoughts. Many companies have on-site gyms available for their employees to use. Take advantage of these resources and use a portion of your lunch break in the gym, or even stop by on your way out of work.
Quick exercises you can implement during your daily break can include:
If you don’t enjoy going to the gym, find a type of exercise you do enjoy, such as a quick walk (you can do this in the office!), swimming, or a pilates class.
Getting enough rest and resetting from the workday can help prevent burnout and long-term stress. Nova Vita Wellness Centers can help you acquire the proper treatment needed to prioritize taking care of yourself. From vitamin infusions and boosters to hydrafacials our personalized wellness team will provide you with the tools you need to reset and tackle your next work day.
Our medical experts will help you navigate your holistic health journey. Contact us today to discuss your health needs with an experienced medical professional.