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5 Essentials for an Office Power Nap

Gear up for a refreshing nap at work.

Source: iStock

Grabbing a quick catnap at work is increasingly viewed as acceptable and even productive behavior. It’s hard for employers to argue with results. And the results of research show that a 10- to 30-minute power nap can combat drowsiness, boost mood, increase alertness and improve cognitive performance.

Yet slumping over in your chair with your head on the desk isn't exactly ergonomically correct, and drooling on your keyboard is never a good idea. The right napping gear can help you avoid these pitfalls and get a more refreshing nap at work.

Nap Like a Pro

Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, has been an avid napper for more than four decades. “My process is rather simple and involves four items and one caveat,” he says. The items: “Earplugs, an eye mask, an old cashmere sweater and an inflatable pillow.” The caveat: “My office door stays closed.”

With these conditions met, Cohen says, “I can fall asleep almost immediately and wake refreshed and without a reminder 30 or so minutes later.”

Earlier in Cohen’s career, napping was a way to catch up on much-needed shuteye. “Nowadays, napping has become a daily routine,” he says. “It’s not so much out of necessity, but rather to stay focused and energetic as well as to ensure that my clients always get the best of the time we spend together.”

Power Nap Tools

A growing list of products are being marketed as napping accessories, from sleep pods with built-in sound systems to sweatshirts with inflatable hoods that can double as pillows. As Cohen discovered, you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to put together an office napping kit. You just need to anticipate your needs in five key areas.

Something to sleep on

Unless you’re lucky enough to work for a company with an employee nap room, you’ll need to find a comfortable place for your nap. A desk chair that reclines and has a pull-out foot rest is an appealing but pricey option. If you have to make do with an ordinary desk chair, consider elevating your feet with a freestanding footrest or a small foot hammock that hangs under the desk. Depending on space and privacy, another alternative might be to stretch out on a backpacker’s sleeping pad on the floor.

A comfy pillow for your head

Explore the wide array of pillows marketed for travelers and nappers. They range from the familiar U-shaped pillows that go around your neck to odd-looking padded hoods and headbands that cover your eyes and ears, doubling as noise mufflers and light blockers. If you sleep while sitting up, choose a design that offers head and neck support. If storage space is an issue, consider an inflatable travel or camping pillow.

Something to control the noise

Another key to a refreshing nap is blocking or masking noise from your environment. Wear noise-cancelling headphones, pop in ear plugs or switch on a fan or white noise machine. If you prefer listening to relaxing music or soothing sounds, create your own playlist or consider a sleep app such as Pzizz or Relax Melodies.

Something to block the light

If the room in which you nap can be completely darkened, you’re home free. When that isn’t possible, you may want to don an eye mask. If you’re worried about smudged eye makeup, look for a goggle-like design that doesn’t touch your eyes.

A grown-up substitute for the blankie you couldn't sleep without when you were three

When it’s time for a nap, many people like to pull on a favorite hoodie or cover up with a light throw. If your office is very chilly, the added warmth may feel good. But much of the soporific effect lies in the object’s reassuring familiarity. Think of it as the office-friendly equivalent of putting on your favorite pj’s.

For Cohen’s part, a sweater that he’s owned for years and that now lives at his office serves this purpose. “I guess it could be considered a security blanket of sorts,” he says. That sense of being ensconced in your own safe, cozy world may help you let down your guard enough to doze off peacefully. Happy napping!

Linda Wasmer Andrews writes and naps in her Milwaukee-area office. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Read more from this blog:
How Mindfulness at Work Improves Your Sleep
Choosing a Blanket to Help You Sleep
Ultimate Napping: A How-To Guide

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