Med students need their sleep but sometimes we just don’t have enough time. But what if I could show you how to take the perfect power nap?
And believe me this is my secret! People often say “Dude, you are a machine!” I would say, “No. In fact, I sleep a lot. I sleep often and I sleep purposefully.”
In this post, I’ll show you how and why you should get some rest throughout the day. We’re going to be talking about the perfect power nap!
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The Perfect Power Nap
First, let’s talk about the science behind an effective power nap and why they’ve worked so well.
Over a day, our body accumulates a neurotransmitter in our brains known as Adenosine.
Adenosine’s natural function in our brain is to slow everything down.
It’s basically our bodies reminder of saying, “Hey, get some rest, get some sleep.” But as med students, we don’t always have that luxury.
We come home in the late afternoons and we still have to study, prepare for exams, take notes, and a lot more.
At 2:00 to 4:00 PM our bodies naturally start to slow down and we feel least motivated to get some work done.
That’s where the power nap comes in!
It’s basically 10 to 30 minutes of rest that you can give yourselves to wash out some of that Adenosine you’ve accumulated throughout the day. When you wake up, you’re feeling more rested.
Science shows that in addition to feeling more alert, you also become more productive and your cognitive function increases. Thus, we should take power naps whenever possible.
As med students, we need a little more energy to make it through a late night study session, or to prepare for an exam or a final.
That’s why I love to use coffee power naps! I’ve used them throughout my four years of medical school and they work so well.
It basically goes down to three simple steps:
Step one, make some coffee.
Step two, drink your coffee.
Step three, take a power nap!
The reason that this works so well is one, sleep takes away Adenosine in our bodies.
Caffeine and Adenosine both bind to the same receptor.
Adenosine slows your body down. Caffeine stops Adenosine from working, thus making your body feel more alert.
This is why shortly after drinking a soda, coffee or a tea, we feel a little bit more hyped. So, after taking a nap, we give caffeine in our systems to use more receptors and make us feel more alert.
If the sleep and the coffee are working, we have a better nap in just 10 to 30 minutes a day.
Tips For An Effective Power Nap
After using coffee naps for the last four years, I want to give you some tips and takeaways that will make it so much more effective.
Tip #1: Don’t Nap Longer Than 30 Minutes
This first tip is for those who are saying, “Naps don’t work for me. I’m always groggy afterwards”.
Our sleep cycle is broken down into four main sleep-phases. The first two are where a power nap happens.
After 30 minutes, we start to go into deeper forms of sleep where we hit a concept called sleep inertia.
This is where we’ve gotten a lot of rest, yet when we wake up, we’re more tired than we were before we went to bed.
Keeping your sleep between 10 to 30 minutes will allow you to have the best mixture of feeling well rested without getting groggy when you’re waking up. So, keep it below 30 minutes.
Tip #2: Use Sleep Apps
My favorite one is Alarmy.
I can set it to 20 to 25 minutes. It’s so obnoxiously loud that I’m definitely waking up before I had that sleep inertia phase.
Tip #3: Make A Quick Brew
Make your coffee very quickly instead of waiting for it to brew.
I love using my aero press because it literally takes me anywhere from two to five minutes to make a great cup of coffee.
You don’t have to use coffee. You can use something like tea. Just know that your caffeine amount shouldn’t be as high.
Tip #4: Sleep Near Light
Sleep near light, not under your covers.
You just want it to make it as easy as possible for you to wake up when that loud alarm goes off.
Tip #5: Have One Easy Yet Important Task After Your Nap
Have something that you can go right into after your power nap.
When you don’t have anything on your to-do list, it’s going to become very easy for you to continue sleeping.
I would pick something like flashcards. But you may be reading your syllabus, doing some practice questions, or others.
Find your favorite study method that you can easily jump into without much effort.
Tip #6: Avoid Power Napping After 6:00 PM
Give your body enough time to wash out that caffeine out of your system and have a natural sleep cycle.
Hopefully, you’re interested in trying out a coffee nap even if you tried it before. Try it out with some of the perfect power nap tips that we mentioned in this post.
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Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon!
Until next time my friend…