Don’t you know those slow afternoons, when you just had lunch and would do anything for a little nap? Yep, we know it pretty well, too. And when it comes to this little craving, it might be the right idea to actually give in.
What are the benefits of napping?
Our society has a tendency to oversee the benefits of a nap. Many people see this activity as reserved for children or elderly people. And they couldn’t be more wrong. There is absolutely no better way to boost your alertness, mental agility, and creativity during the workday than to have a nap. While napping, you tend to experience a lot of NREM sleep which increases your productivity and helps you regenerate physically. What’s more, naps are proven to be a serious mood booster that will help you manage any stressful events with much more patience
Napping is far more efficient than drinking coffee or energy drinks and, more importantly, it’s significantly healthier. Also, after a nap, you won’t experience a ‘crash’ that is so common after drinking caffeinated drinks.
As for the long-term benefits, taking regular naps lowers the risk of heart disease and helps to reduce blood pressure. It also lessens the risk of weight gain and helps you fight sleep deprivation. However, there are also some constraints when it comes to napping. If you’re suffering from insomnia or a similar sleep disorder you should be cautious. Sleeping during the day, especially late, can make it even harder for you to fall asleep during the night. Also, regular naps should never be forced. If you find it hard to drift off and even after a month of practicing it takes you more than 10 minutes to do it, you can safely assume that this habit isn’t for you.
When should I take my nap?
To get the most out of your nap, you should know that timing is what matters the most here. Choosing a wrong time might not only take away nap’s benefits but also make you groggy and run-down. Falling asleep within five hours after waking up should be rather difficult if you got a good rest during the night. If you feel the need to nap in that period it most likely means that you didn’t get enough sleep. On the other hand, if you nap too late, right before you go to bed for the night, you can disrupt your main sleep period.
So what’s the best time? It’s heavily dependent on your own biological clock, but the most accurate estimate would be around 7 hours after you woke up. It’s a good idea to take an example of nations for whom taking a siesta is a common practice. They tend to start it around 2 pm when they eat lunch and then, they take a brief nap or just rest. Eating before having a nap is well advised as it can help you fall asleep. Exercising or having sex is also recommended.
How long my nap should be?
The duration of your nap isn’t meaningless either. If you take the nap at the right time of the day, it will be easier to define its perfect length. If it’s possible, you shouldn’t use alarm clock for waking up from the nap and allow yourself to wake up naturally. If your time is restricted and you can’t risk oversleeping, plan a 10-30 minute nap. This length should make it as refreshing as possible and won’t make you feel groggy. As for the place you choose for your nap, the same rules as for the night’s sleep apply. It should be dark, quiet and cool.
Golden rules of napping
Keep in mind that one nap a day is definitely enough for you. If you feel the need to take more of them or you don’t wake up from your first nap after more than 100 minutes, it might mean that you’re not getting enough sleep during the night. If that’s the case, you should try to extend the time you spend on your night’s rest and reflect whether the rest you’re getting isn’t lacking in quality.
In case you wanna make sure that you’re doing it right, grab this handy checklist:
- Don’t take more than one nap a day.
- Don’t nap shortly before going to bed (early afternoon is the best time).
- Don’t drink coffee before your nap.
- Don’t drink alcohol before your nap.
- Avoid stress before the nap.
- Try not to use the alarm clock, but don’t nap for too long.
- If it takes you more than 10 minutes to fall asleep, skip the nap.
Good luck and sweet dreams!
- Hayashi, M., & Hori, T. (1998). The effects of a 20-min nap before post-lunch dip. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci, 52(2), 203-204.
- Mayo Clinic. (2015, October 3). Napping: Do’s and don’ts for healthy adults. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/napping/art-20048319
- Takahashi, M., Fukuda, H., & Arito, H. (1998). Brief naps during post-lunch rest: effects on alertness, performance, and autonomic balance. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 78(2), 93-98.