Here is my own take on the serious business of napping.
During any peak period of activity in our industry a Broker can experience intense 12-, 14-, and even 16-hour days back-to-back-to-back. A key survival skill is mastery of the power nap.
Make no mistake, it is a skill. You have to learn how to nap properly. It is a key to remaining mentally sharp, energetic, healthy, and productive in the face of a brutally long work-week.
To achieve peak performance for the brain, and allow some midday recovery time for the body.
As an early riser, and an occasional night owl, I find a midday nap is vital, most days, to my own peak performance.
Typically by 3pm, somewhere between eight and ten hours of quality work have been completed, and I fade just a touch. That subtle mental drift, or the more noticeable head bob at the desk are the telltale signs. The drowsiness is exacerbated by a heavy lunch. And it (just about) goes without saying that alcohol at lunchtime is a huge productivity fail. Increasingly, a drink with lunch is also seen as a social faux pas.
Seriously, how the previous generation got any work done in the late afternoon hours following a three-martini lunch is anybody’s guess.
By midday in my office there have been dozens, maybe hundreds of emails written and read, dozens of phone conversations, and perhaps two or three in-person meetings to review financing strategy. Lots of brainpower exerted!
A simple 20-minute nap can act like a backup of data in the brain from the RAM to the ROM… storing those conversations, filtering out key points, backing up key thoughts, important to-dos, etc. to your mental hard drive, so to speak.
Think of it as hitting the ‘Save’ button on the first half of the day.
You will be sharper and in a better mood for the balance of the day/evening.
Ritual is key. As soon as I feel the fade:
Phone into airplane mode.
Yoga mat rolled out in exact same spot.
Sheet of paper folded and balanced across forehead and bridge of nose (budget sleep mask).
Merino wool zip sweater XL on.
I have a preferred physical position as well. Having had some challenges with my spine over the years, I have found that the perfect positioning is flat on my back on a yoga mat on the floor, with legs bent at the waist 90 degrees, knees bent 90 degrees and calves supported on the cushion of my office chair. This position eases pressure from the lower spine. Flattening the spine along the floor helps compensate for having been hunched over a keyboard for several hours.
Never in a bed. Not ever.
Beds are for full on sleeping, not for napping.
Pretty much anywhere but a bed, and usually on the floor. Weekdays, in my office. Occasionally in my vehicle during the lunch break while attending a full conference day. Warm summer day? Find a park bench. Weekends, in the great room with my legs hooked on the couch cushion rather than my office chair – the chatter of family is a non-issue at this point. Again, it took years to learn to quiet my mind in a noisy environment, years. Worthwhile though.
I’ve napped at the base of Whistler Mountain next to the chair-lift and massive line-ups, in a jam packed airport lounge with kids yelling and running all around, on a patio behind a stack of chairs at a jam-packed pub.
The goal is a 15 – 20-minute nap, but at first the goal may simply be 15 – 20 minutes physically removed from the main environment, during which you close your eyes and count your breaths. Focus on long slow inhales, and exhales that last twice the length of the inhale.
Yeah, yeah, it could be called meditation. Fifteen years ago I did not know that was what I was starting to do.
For me, consistently ~3pm.
The very best app of all?
Embrace napping, your body and your brain will thank you for it.