Just thinking about the聽proven聽health and creativity benefits of napping at work聽have us longing for a midday siesta.聽Afternoon naps are good for you, having been shown to聽boost memory and cognitive skills, lower your heart rate and increase energy levels. But just because sneaking in a few winks is amazingly beneficial for us doesn鈥檛 exactly mean it鈥檚 a good look to be聽konked out at our desks聽when the three聽o鈥檆lock聽slump hits. Even if you do have the flexibility聽to take a time out, it can be awfully hard to get some quality shut-eye with the hum of a to-do list buzzing in your ear. Enter Yoga Nidra: a聽relaxation meditation that鈥檚 the equivalent of getting many hours of sleep while still being awake.

sleep

The ancient practice of Yoga Nidra, also known as 鈥測oga sleep鈥 and 鈥減sychic sleep,鈥 lulls your brain into a deeply relaxed聽state through a set of breathing exercises and simple instructions involving visual imagery and body scans. The technique aims to bring you into the present (similar to mindfulness) by occupying the brain聽and preventing mind chatter. Silencing our often over-stimulating, heightened state of alertness聽is the quickest way to deep relaxation, rejuvenation and mental integration, much like you would get with a nap.

Yoga Nidra is best practiced lying down, but if you鈥檙e at work or in the library, a comfy chair can work too, as long as your body is fully supported. A teacher will guide you through the practice, asking you聽to identify different sensations in the body and to focus on your breath, gradually submerging into a calm聽state where your silent inner-world emerges (aka your subconscious).聽Studies have found that the relaxed brain state you get from practicing mindfulness, meditation or Yoga Nidra causes the nervous system to calm and stress hormones to diminish.

Even if you鈥檙e short on time, practicing Yoga Nidra for as little as five聽minutes will give you benefits on par with your beloved afternoon cat nap. All you need to start is a set of headphones and a guided audio clip. Check out these聽five,聽eight聽and聽25-minute yoga sleep聽options. So next time 3pm hits, and you鈥檙e having trouble seeing through your mental fog, a recharge could be as easy as slipping in your earbuds and slowing down聽your brain waves.

Will you try out聽Yoga Nidra next time you鈥檙e craving a nap but can鈥檛 take one? Tell us on Twitter聽@BritandCo!

(Photo by Getty)