Over my time here at Stanford, I have frequently found myself caught in the middle of an uncomfortable tug-of-war between two of my fears: the fear of missing out and the fear of being unproductive. Until a few weeks ago, in my head, the obvious point of intersection between these two fears was located at the very epitome of “missing-out”-ness: nap-time.
I used to think that to nap was to waste the world away. If I wasn’t spending time on homework, applications or anything that would benefit my future prospects, and I wasn’t taking the time to do things that I enjoyed or attending events that I’d regret not going to when I heard all about how “super fun” they were from my friends, then whatever I was doing must have been a complete waste of time, especially if that consisted of laying in my bed sleeping the daylight away.
Naps weren’t even helpful for me; I’d wake up from an hour and a half of snoozing that I could have spent doing other things, and I’d only feel more groggy, sleepy and unmotivated than I had before. Thus, I spent most days powering through the hard-hitting waves of heavy drowsiness, nodding off and catching my droopy eyelids from falling shut through hours of work and painful “productivity.”
What I began to realize, however, was that during these long stretches of ceaseless grinding, what I actually ended up producing amounted to very little. Even more disturbing was the fact that amid my small pool of completed tasks existed nothing but forced, nonsensical material and quite frankly, total garbage. So one day, I decided, “To heck with it all!” and set my alarm for twenty minutes, drew the blinds, curled up in my cozy twin-bed and, against all odds, slept.
The alarm went off to the tune of a peppy eighties song, and, gosh darn it, I felt great! It was a nap just long enough for me to feel rested and short enough so that I hadn’t entered too deep a sleep. I hopped out of bed and managed to crank out an entire journal entry for a sociology class with jovial dedication and unexpected fervor.
So I became an avid napper and amped up my productivity! Hurrah! What I hadn’t fully discovered at this point was that you could turn the volume up another five notches with a trick I learned from the incredible Daniel Pink, author of five books including award-winning To Sell is Human.
The trick is what Mr. Pink has labeled the “Nappuccino,” which at its core is a power nap with a caffeine kick. The premise is that you drink a cup of coffee just before falling asleep for about ten to twenty minutes – which is both an optimal amount of time for napping and roughly equivalent to the duration it takes for the caffeine to really set in – then, as you are waking up, you are both refreshed by the brief but uplifting encounter with the comfort of sleeping in your bed and also revitalized by a sudden burst of energy brought on by the coffee that is now in effect.
This process has extended my capacity from measly journal entries to full-on drafts of essays. Thus, I have been proven utterly wrong in my castigation of naps as emblems of counterproductivity. Instead, with new strides in the school of napping such as that of the marvelous “Nappuccino,” productivity comes by the ring of an alarm waking you up to a refreshed new start.
Contact Clara Spars at cspars ‘at’ stanford.edu.