You need immediate alertness. Try a “ caffeine nap. ” Researchers at Loughborough University tested several ways to improve the alertness of drivers and found the “caffeine nap” to be the most effective method. You down a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage and then immediately hunker down for a 15-20 minute nap. Again, don’t go any longer than that or you’ll awaken with sleep inertia. The caffeine clears your body of adenosine, a chemical which makes you sleepy. It takes awhile for the caffeine to circulate through your system, so it doesn’t effect the quality of the nap. Instead, it kicks in in tandem with the refreshment you would feel upon awakening from a normal power nap. I’ve personally found the caffeine nap to be effective, especially when you’re crunched for time; it’s easier to get up and keeps you from the temptation of turning a 20 minute nap into an hour and a half session.
The good news is that sleep patterns are somewhat flexible (that doesn’t mean they should change from night to night, it means they can adapt around regular family needs and schedules). When my partner and I work with families in sleep consultations, one of the biggest factors in answering a nap-versus-no-nap question is the family routine. Is one parent home early enough to accommodate a 7:00 . bedtime? If not, dropping a nap may not be advised—when little kids don’t nap, they usually need a very early, consistent bedtime. The nap allows a lot of families to come home from work, have dinner, and spend a little time together.
Late-afternoon napping isn’t healthy. It delays your falling asleep time in the evening and begins to shift your biological clock, making getting up in the morning a struggle. Senior citizens who have nocturnal insomnia should refrain from napping at all. It will only make things worse. Better to be exhausted in the evening and get a long, continuous nocturnal sleep. You might want to take a mid-afternoon nap but can’t seem to fall asleep. If that’s the case, don’t worry. Maybe you’re not overly sleep-deprived in the first place; or you might be too stressed or stimulated to nod off. Just the act of relaxing meditating or lying down with your eyes closed will be beneficial in restoring energy .