Tips for the Perfect Nap!
If you’re ready to get into your own napping habit, here’s a research-based method for getting the most out of your time sleeping. These tips will help you maximize the benefits of napping, and may just have you making naps a part of your everyday schedule.
Watch the time.
The most beneficial naps during the day according to sleep experts are relatively short. This is because short naps only allow individuals to enter the first two stages of sleep. Once you enter slow wave sleep, it’s much harder to wake up and you may be left feeling groggy for hours afterwards. Ideally, keep your naps under 20 minutes.
Naps of this duration are short enough to fit into a workday but still give the benefits of improved mood, concentration, alertness, and motor skills. If you’ve got more time, a nap of 45 minutes can also have benefits, including boosts in sensory processing and creative thinking. If you go longer, aim for at least 90 minutes so you’ll work your way through all the stages of sleep and won’t wake up disoriented.
Find a quiet and dark place.
Noise and light can disrupt your ability to sleep (though if you’re really tired neither may really faze you) so it’s best to limit them to get the most rest out of your nap. To limit distracting sounds, put in earplugs or listen to white noise. To cut out light, darken a room or employ an eyeshade.
While it might be possible to fall asleep sitting up, it’ll take significantly more time; about 50% longer. It’s best to lie down so you’ll get to sleep quickly and make the most of your time.
Get in the napping zone.
If you want to fall asleep quickly and actually enjoy the restful benefits of napping, you need to shut out the nagging voices in your head that are reminding you of all the things you need to get done. Meditation techniques are a great way to do that, researchers advise. Concentrate on your breathing, relax your muscles, and even use visualization techniques to take you somewhere calming.
Coordinate your caffeine.
If you need a little extra boost besides your nap, you should coordinate the two. Caffeine takes about 20 to 30 minutes to take effect, so if you drink a cup of coffee before you nap, it’ll be kicking in just as you’re waking up. The practice is called a “caffeine nap” and studies at Loughborough University showed that the combination can actually leave individuals feeling more refreshed than just one or the other alone.
Plan to nap.
Ideally, you want to take a nap before you get to the point that extreme sleepiness can become dangerous or uncomfortable. So, plan naps into your day so you’ll know one is on the horizon and you’ll never be left feeling incredibly out of it as you work, drive, or do other tasks.
Set an alarm.
You don’t want to sleep longer than you intend, so always set an alarm to ensure that you wake up within the time frame you set for yourself and don’t drift into sleep cyclesthat could leave you drowsy.
Cut out the guilt.
Science has shown time and time again that napping is not only natural, it’s extremely beneficial. Don’t guilt yourself out of a nap by focusing on what you need to get done or worrying what others might think. Instead, enjoy the nap and reap the benefits of improved productivity, energy, and mental capacity that it offers