“How can I stop snacking in the afternoon?” That’s a question I get asked quite often. If you feel tired, a little sugar or caffeine may seem like an easy way to get that extra oomph you need. But let’s put it this way: with over 2/3 of the adult population being sleep deprived in the US (and if you are in Australia, Canada, France or England, my bet is that your stats are very similar), and with ever-increasing obesity rates everywhere, most of us would benefit more from fitting in a few extra Zzzzs per 24-hour cycle than we would eating a few extra calories.
Ready to give it a try? Here are some basic rules to get the most out of a nap:
- Keep it short. Napping for as little as 15 minutes will have a noticeable impact on your energy levels and ability to be productive. On the other hand, naps longer than 45 minutes may make you feel drowsy, and compromise your drive to fall asleep at night. 15 minutes is not long enough for you to fully fall asleep? No worries. The mere fact that you gave yourself the opportunity to shut down, close your eyes and deep breathe is full of benefits in itself.
- Nap early. Napping after 5PM will likely compromise your ability to fall asleep at night.
- Observe your energy dips. If you tend to yawn and reach for sugary snacks or caffeine at 3PM every afternoon, then that’s the best time for you to replace a bad habit (sugar) with a better one (nap). If your work environment isn’t conducive to napping, check out Take a Cat Nap on p. 94 of our book for suggestions on how to find the peace and quiet you need.
- Put your smartphone to good use. First, turn your ringer off – this one goes without saying. But then use an app to play soothing sounds while you relax. Also use your phone alarm to wake you up gently when it’s time to get back to work. Knowing that you don’t risk sleeping in through your next appointment will help you drift away peacefully and efficiently.
Napping will not only help boost your energy, but it will also slow down your production of cortisol, the stress hormone that drives you to want more high-sugar, high-fat foods. So what may seem like an over-the-top indulgence may actually keep you away from needless decadence! ;-)