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Power Napping Tips

We all know sleep deprivation is a major concern for anyone in the medical field. Long shifts, changing shifts and on-call duty mean professionals in this field struggle to get enough sleep - especially enough restful REM sleep.

Sleep deprivation can be a serious concern for medical professionals. It can cause moodiness, difficulty concentrating and poor memory. It can also cause undue stress and can decrease quality of life. It's hard to feel great about anything or to work at your highest potential when you're exhausted. Loss of sleep can even make you less productive at work by slowing you down.

young doctor in a stressful situation has a headache

Unfortunately, the realities of work in the medical field aren't always conducive to great sleep. You may have to move from night shifts to day shifts, which can interrupt your sleep cycle. If you work nights, you may have a hard time sleeping well during the day because of the light and noise. And, of course, the long hours you work at the hospital or clinic can cut into your rest.

What can be done about it? A power nap a day can be a beneficial way to improve sleep and to reduce the effects of sleep deprivation and fatigue. While it doesn't replace the benefits of good sleep, napping can improve alertness temporarily. Additionally, when naps are combined with good sleep habits overall, they can become a beneficial way to enjoy more energy during the day - even without caffeine. Some of the greatest thinkers in the world were fans of naps, so try fitting power napping into your day.

The Benefits of Napping

Power naps have many benefits:

  • They fit into a hectic schedule.
  • The can improve your productivity. One study found 40-minute naps improved alertness of military pilots by 100% and boosted performance by 34%.
  • They can help reduce stress.
  • They can make you feel better overall.

How to Take a Power Nap

There are many ways to improve your napping experience:

1) Choose the right time.
Around noon is the best time for a daytime time, and half-way through a night shift may be the best time for a nap if you're on duty late at night. If you take a power nap too soon after waking up, you may not get optimal benefits. Similarly, if you have your nap too close to your regular bedtime, you may have a hard time falling asleep.

2) Choose the right place.
Choose a quiet area with low or no light and a comfortable temperature. A good environment can allow you to sleep more soundly and can enhance the restorative powers of your nap!

3) Time yourself.
Make sure your set an alarm, especially if you are napping on your break. Naps can be anywhere from 20-40 minutes, and you might need to add in a little time to let yourself actually fall asleep. How long your naps last will depend on the amount of time you have.

4) Make yourself comfortable.
Get a pillow or bring a pillow with you to nap. Use eye masks if you're trying to nap in a brighter room. Take off your shoes if you can and loosen your belt. The more comfortable you are, the more deeply you can nap and the easier a time you will have drifting off.

5) Relax.
When you lay down to nap, it can be difficult to fall asleep, especially if you're not yet used to dozing. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply and focus on clearing your mind. Focus on relaxing each of your muscle groups, one at a time, until your entire body is relaxed. At first, napping might seem challenging, but with practice, you will be able to doze off more easily. If at first you find it difficult to nap, use a relaxation tape and just lie in place, relaxing as much as possible until your alarm rings. You will still enjoy some benefits, even just from the relaxation.

6) Wake up immediately after your nap.
Do not hit the snooze button or try to extend your nap to avoid increasing your drowsiness. Instead, get up, get some fresh air (if possible) and do some light exercise - such as stretches. Breathe deeply and get a drink and a snack. This short post-nap ritual will make you feel even more alert and awake.
Of course, if you're taking power naps during your break, you'll need to make sure you still look professional after your snooze. Check out Pulse Uniform for a full line of fashion-conscious scrubs that stand up well to a busy shift.