Nap on Safely: Five steps toward achieving the optimal camp snooze

Good news, Scout leaders. You now have the perfect response when someone catches you snoozing at camp (or, um, the office?).

Just tell them afternoon naps are recommended by the BSA’s Health and Safety team. And that you ensured adequate adult supervision before letting your eyelids fall.

A 26-minute afternoon nap, enjoyed some time between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m., can make you more productive, healthier and less stressed.

That’s according to Nap on Safely, a BSA Safety Moment released last year.

BSA Safety Moments offer one-page glances at important health and safety topics. They cover everything from A (Acute Mountain Sickness) to Z (zip lines) in an easy-to-read format.

The Safety Moment about napping might be my favorite one of all, because it takes seriously this seemingly silly subject.

It’s not enough to just lean back in your camp chair and close your eyes. You’ll want to follow these five steps:

Five steps to a better camp nap

1. Nap for the right amount of time

  • 6 minutes will enhance memory.
  • 10 to 15 minutes can improve focus and productivity.
  • 26 minutes (the NASA nap) is best for a performance enhancement of 34 percent and an overall alertness increase of 54 percent.
  • 40- to 60-minute naps will leave you groggy because you didn’t finish the sleep cycle.
  • 90 minutes of napping can give you a boost of creativity as you finish a cycle.

2. Nap at the right time

Naps between 1 and 3 p.m. will fit most circadian rhythms. Those planning summer camp schedules might consider a program break during that time so everyone’s fresh at the campfire.

Once you’ve made sure there are at least two adults awake to assist Scouts should the need arise, you’ll be able to rest easy.

3. Nap in the right setting

Find a safe, dark area. If it’s sunny, cover your eyes (using two pirate patches or an eye mask). Lie down to nap; don’t sit up.

Your best bet might be to find a hammock.

At summer camp, where staff members handle supervising Scouts, napping at your troop’s campsite is a great way to ensure that an adult is around if a Scout needs something. In a youth-led troop, you shouldn’t be micromanaging anyway.

4. Nap with a timer

That way you won’t sleep past supper.

5. Nap after drinking coffee

This one’s for the adults. Drink a cup of coffee before you begin your nap. After your 26-minute snooze, the caffeine and nap will combine to make you feel invincible.

More on safe napping

For more tips, read the Nap on Safely Safety Moment.

BSA Photo by Al Drago