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6 reasons you should take a power nap today

Who could use a little more sleep?

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Conceptual illustration of a man sleeping over the minute handle of a clock

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For first responders, sleep is a numbers game. They know how many hours are in a day and how many of them they should be sleeping. They also know how many they need to just to get by.

In the unpredictable world of shift work, finding ways to stay alert and maintain high levels of performance can be challenging. One strategy that’s gained attention for its simplicity and effectiveness is the power nap. But what exactly is a power nap, and how can it benefit shift workers specifically?

What is a power nap?

A power nap is a short sleep session that lasts between 10-30 minutes, designed to quickly rejuvenate the mind and body. Unlike longer naps that can leave you feeling groggy, a power nap aims to keep you in the lighter stages of sleep, making it easier to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to continue your day (or night).

6 benefits of power naps for first responders

1. Improves alertness. For first responders, maintaining alertness can be a matter of life and death. Power napping has been shown to increase alertness and performance, making it an invaluable tool for anyone whose job demands high levels of concentration and quick reflexes.

2. Improves mood. Shift work can take a toll on your mental health, leading to increased irritability and mood swings. A quick power nap can act as a reset button for your emotions, helping to alleviate stress and improve your overall mood.

3. Enhances memory retention. The nature of EMS work often requires processing large amounts of data efficiently and making quick decisions. Power napping can improve cognitive processes, particularly memory retention, which is crucial for first responders who need to recall specific protocols and information rapidly.

4. Reduces mistakes and accidents. Fatigue is a significant factor in workplace errors. By improving alertness and performance, power naps can help reduce the likelihood of errors, a critical consideration in high-stakes environments.

5. Supports physical health. Shift work can disrupt normal sleep patterns, leading to various health issues. Power napping offers a way to mitigate some of these risks by providing the body with a chance to rest and repair, even if only for a short period.

6. Cost-effective energy boost. Unlike relying on caffeine or energy drinks, power naps provide a natural, cost-effective way to boost energy levels without the potential side effects of stimulants, such as increased heart rate or jitters.

Power nap drawbacks

While the benefits are significant, there are drawbacks to consider. Power napping at inappropriate times can disrupt your regular sleep cycle, potentially making it harder to sleep during your designated rest periods. It’s also not always easy to find a suitable place to nap, especially in busy work environments.

Sleeping less than seven hours per night increases risks for nearly every disease

Ideal setting for a power nap

The ideal setting for a power nap is a quiet, dark, and comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed. This could be a dedicated rest area at your workplace or a quiet corner where you can relax undisturbed. The goal is to create an environment that supports quick, restful sleep.

5 products for napping anywhere

Several products can make power napping more effective, including:



1. Headphones. High-quality noise-canceling headphones or earbuds can significantly reduce ambient noise, creating a quieter environment conducive to sleep.

2. Sleep mask. A high-quality sleep mask can block out light, making it significantly easier to fall asleep regardless of the environment. Look for a mask with a contoured design that allows for eye movement and reduces pressure on the eyes, enhancing sleep quality.

3. Ergonomic travel pillow. An ergonomic travel pillow can provide the necessary neck support for a comfortable nap, especially in seated or semi-seated positions. Look for a memory foam pillow that adapts to the shape of your neck and head, offering support and comfort.



4. Compact travel blanket. A soft, lightweight travel blanket can enhance comfort and warmth, making it easier to relax and fall asleep. Compact and easy to carry, these blankets can also provide a sense of personal space in a crowded setting.

5. Portable privacy pop-up tent. A lightweight, portable privacy tent can be a game-changer for napping in crowded areas. These tents are designed to fit over the upper half of your body while laying down, providing privacy, shade and a visual barrier from the surrounding environment.

For first responders, the benefits of power napping are clear. From boosting alertness and performance to improving physical and mental health, power naps can be a game-changer. Whether you’re facing a long night shift or just looking for a midday energy boost, consider taking a power nap today, even if just for 5 minutes – it might just be the secret weapon you need to tackle your demanding schedule.

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.