The term "power nap" may have originated in the business world, but it's a concept that's applicable to life as a postgrad, too. As you struggle through that advanced degree, you may well find that napping is the key to staying on top of your workload without feeling like a zombie.
Napping: not just for children!
Naps are helpful as an antidote to sleepless nights. Whether you've got a deadline to meet or you simply can't let go of a gripping train of thought, late nights can be an occupational hazard for the postgraduate student. Burning the midnight oil now and again probably won't leave you too frazzled, but if you're pulling all nighters once or twice a week the strain is bound to show
. A nap won't replace the full night's sleep you really need, but a quick snooze can stop too much interest from accruing on your sleep debt.
Even if you're operating on a more civilised schedule, you can still benefit from catnaps during the day — there are other advantages to sleeping for short extra periods besides combating fatigue. Getting a small but significant amount of shuteye is beneficial in pretty much exactly those areas that are most vital for a postgraduate student, including memory, creativity and problem-solving. Studies show that power naps can help lower your stress levels and improve concentration.
The Perfect Nap
We've all got our preferences when it comes to the ideal nap
. There are a few constants that seem to be pretty much universal, however, and one of these is the optimal time for a nap. There's a particular sweet spot somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes where the advantages of sleeping during the day become most apparent. Less than 20 minutes and you probably haven't had enough rest; more than 45 minutes and you'll drift too far into deep sleep. This leads to waking up feeling groggy and out of sorts.
If you're given to enjoying a coffee
as the antidote to the mid-afternoon slump, you might think that this would disqualify you from getting the most out of a nap. In fact, the combination of a dose of caffeine and a nap can be more beneficial than either a short sleep or a coffee alone. To take a "caffeine nap," the trick is to prepare for sleep before you drink your coffee, then lie down right away. While you doze, the caffeine is working its way into your system; this takes about 20 minutes, just long enough for a decent snooze. If you've timed everything right, the effects of the coffee should hit you just as you wake up. There you have it: Caffeine Nap achievement unlocked.