The complete guide to power napping at work + hacks from DeskTime’s team

Aiva Strelca 22.09.2023
An illustration of an employee power napping at work

Didn’t expect to see a guide to power napping at work on a blog that usually talks about productivity? Well, neither did we. 

However – power napping and productivity aren’t that incompatible. A recent Sleep Health journal research found that a 30-minute power nap can significantly help your work productivity and positively impact your cognitive abilities. No wonder many great names of human history were avid power nappers.

Moreover, according to the same scientists, the brains of those who regularly take a power nap age slower than those who don’t grab some z’s during the daytime. 

So – should we all start power napping at work to a) be more productive and b) slow down the aging of our brains? 

Could be. 

But it has to be done right to bring the best possible results. Our team at DeskTime has several power nappers on board (yes, they’re all über productive employees). Hence, we asked them to help craft this ultimate guide on power napping at work.

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How to power nap at work + the key method for a short but sweet nap

How to power nap at work

The first hot tip comes from DeskTime’s Head of IT, Aleksandrs. He takes regular power naps in his office chair beside his work desk. Moreover, he uses the key method invented by Salvador Dali – that ensures he always wakes up on time when napping.

Here’s how this nap technique is mastered:

  1. Pick up a set of keys (yes, that’s why it’s called “the key method”) and hold them in your palm – it can also be any other object that clatters loudly when dropped
  2. Lie down on a bed, couch, or office chair – wherever you’ve chosen to nap
  3. Angle the arm holding the keys so it hangs over the edge of your chosen napping spot
  4. Then you’re free to drift into nap-land
  5. As you fall deeper into sleep, your body will start to relax, including the arm, and whatever’s in your hand will slip from your palm and hit the floor and wake you up

According to Aleksandrs, this method gives you about 10-15 minutes of nap time, which provides just the boost your tired brain and body needs. 

Power napping at work to fight the afternoon slump

A female worker taking a power nap in the office

The next hack on power napping at work comes from Inga, a Usability Analyst at DeskTime.

She’s been taking power naps since her school years. “I usually took a 15-minute nap when I got home from school in the afternoon to reboot some energy for after-school activities and workouts.” 

This afternoon power nap hack has been Inga’s go-to method ever since. Being an early bird, she feels the afternoon slump at about 3-4 PM. That’s when she’s more prone to scroll social media and chat with colleagues instead of remaining productive.

Hence, Inga highly recommends power napping at work – especially in the afternoon when the workday isn’t done yet, but your energy levels are hitting some lows.

“I especially enjoyed this during the fully remote work times. While working from home, it was easy to take a quick nap and then return to work, all refreshed and ready to get things done again,” Inga explains.

How long should your afternoon power nap be?

Sleep experts support Inga’s 15-minute afternoon nap hack. They have found that the ideal length of a power nap is 20 minutes, but overall, it shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes. 

Within 30 minutes, you can drift into a light sleep stage, which helps you feel more alert when you wake up. A nap longer than half an hour will likely make you feel tired, as you risk drifting into deep sleep. 

Always set an alarm to ensure you don’t drift into a several-hour-long siesta time. 

Upgraded power naps at work

A man power napping on an office couch

Besides taking power naps at work per se, there are several ways to upgrade them to get the maximum effect. 

Here’s a tip from DeskTime’s CMO Reins – he recommends lying on an acupuncture mat instead of taking a regular power nap. According to Reins, the first 5-10 minutes can feel painful. But in about 10 minutes, your body will get accustomed to how the mat feels and relax. As a result, you’ll see your energy levels rising. 

Note: Acupuncture mats will not be everyone’s cup of tea, so don’t worry if you try this hack and don’t enjoy it.

And that leads us to another trick to level up power napping at work – the so-called coffee nap. It means you have a cup of caffeinated beverage before your siesta time. 

Caffeine usually doesn’t kick in sooner than 30 minutes after its consumption, meaning that you can easily drink an espresso and drift to the nap land for half an hour. 30 minutes later, as you wake up from your nap, the caffeine will start doing wonders. As a result – you’ll feel rested AND energized.

Note: Specialists recommend drinking your last cup of caffeinated beverage about six hours before bedtime so it doesn’t disrupt your night’s sleep. This means the coffee nap should also be done early enough in the afternoon.

More ways how taking power naps at work benefits us

sleeping in the office

Based on the feedback from DeskTime’s team members, it looks like scientists aren’t bluffing, and taking power naps at work benefits one’s productivity and focus. 

But what are the other advantages of power napping at work?

  • Reduced daytime fatigue – while sleep and getting enough of it should be sacred, it’s not uncommon to suffer from sleep deprivation. And rather than drinking gallons of coffee and surviving on chocolate bars, taking a power nap during the daytime is way more effective. 
  • Improved cognitive function – with every hour we’re awake, our brains become less efficient in processing information and making decisions. Short naps can press the restart button for your brain and help you be efficient a bit longer.
  • Reduced stress levels – regularly taking power naps can also result in lower stress levels daily. Drifting into a light sleep stage helps your body and mind relax, and a power nap becomes a relaxation technique.
  • Creativity boost – while some literary geniuses crafted their best works on the verge of delirium, it may not be the best approach for most employees with creative-ish tasks to complete. Thus, if you lack creative juices, try power napping at work and see if it opens the portal of imagination and fresh ideas.

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Bonus hack: Make sure you’re in the clear with your nap

While we’re all free people entitled to take breaks during workdays, asking your management about their view on power napping at work is not a bad idea. Especially if you’re doing it in the office. 

Technically, it shouldn’t matter – whether you spend 15 minutes chit-chatting with your co-workers by the coffee machine or taking a power nap on the leisure room sofa. But who knows, right? 

If your management opposes this idea, you can list the benefits of power napping at work mentioned above. If 15 minutes of sleep can make you productive for the remaining workday, there’s no reason for your employer to disapprove of this idea.

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