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How to Power Nap in 4 Simple Steps

teen napping with book over face

Your friends are annoying you. You can’t remember what you learned in math yesterday. And now you can’t find your cell phone.

No, you’re not having a brain lapse. You’re probably just tired -- and that’s making you feel grumpy and forget things. Don't grab a bag of chips or an energy drink to perk up. Energy drinks can have way too much unhealthy sugar, and some have dangerous amounts of caffeine and other supplements. And chips have empty calories that don’t give your body what it needs to stay healthy.

Instead, take a power nap! Yes, naps aren’t just for babies. A midafternoon snooze can refresh you. When you’re tired it can really make making healthy choices hard. A nap may help you focus and make healthy decisions (like saying no to those chips).

Four Steps to Power Nap Like a Pro:

  1. Find a good spot. Put your head down on a quiet table in the student lounge. Cozy up in a chair when you get home, before you do homework. You can power nap almost anywhere -- in the library or on the bus on the way to a game.
  2. Keep it short. Shoot for a 20- to 30-minute nap. Set your alarm, so you don’t oversleep. A longer nap can make you groggy and feel worse.
  3. Do it in the afternoon. That's usually the best siesta time. Just make sure you finish your nap by 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Nap later and you may have a hard time falling asleep at night.
  4. Turn on some soothing sounds. If you have trouble dozing off, listen to relaxing music or a boring podcast.

Next, polish your power nap plan so it works for you. Try different times and nap spots. Was the library quiet enough? Did you feel rested after 20 minutes, or did you need to snooze another 10? Adjust if you need to.

If you’re power napping like a pro during the week but still feeling tired, maybe you’re  not getting the 8 1/2 to 9 1/4 hours of sleep you need every night.

A power nap can’t replace a lot of missed sleep. It’s only a temporary solution until you can hit the hay for real. So nap and then get to bed earlier tonight. That’ll help keep your mind sharp and body happy. Too little sleep can wreck your concentration and mess with your weight.

You can make up a little bit of sleep on the weekend by sleeping in – but not ‘til noon. Experts say don’t sleep in more than one hour past your school days wake-up time. Getting off track on the weekend can set you up for sleep problems during the week.  Here’s how to convince your parents to let you sleep a little later on Saturdays and Sundays.

Of course, you can take a nap on the weekend, too. Sunday afternoons are perfect for power naps. Just remember the power napping rules: Keep it short -- about 20-30 minutes -- and finish up before 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.

Looking for ways to re-energize that don’t involve a power nap? Try some energizing yoga. Or how about one of these three better ways to get more energy.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on October 31, 2012