How to Nap it Best?
NOT DOING THINGS
No doubt about it, naps are glorious. Nothing beats the feeling of catching some extra ZZZ’s, and that’s why we sometimes do it whenever and wherever we can. This is especially true if you’ve got a busy schedule and mounting sleep debt. In fact, it may be the only way to survive the day without rigging up an IV of coffee or guzzling down toxic energy drinks (we do NOT recommend this).
Yes, a nap can be the perfect way to hit the refresh button. And the benefits of taking one actually go well beyond ensuring you make the 8pm dinner reservation you committed to last week. Napping can be widely restorative, and helps to improve alertness, performance, creativity and memory function. If you need any more convincing, Napoleon, Leonardo da Vinci and JFK were all historically serious nappers. Direct correlation there? We’re going with YES.
But you want to ensure that your snoozing experience is a quality one. When? Where? How long? So, before you doze off and simply hope for the best, there are a few things you should know. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro just honing your craft, you may find the following helpful.
Decide if you actually need a nap.
A lot of us start to get droopy eyelids and an irritated attitude once the afternoon hits. It’s normal. However, sometimes, a healthy snack, a little exercise or a breath of fresh air is all it takes to get the energy-boost you need. So, before you dive face first into your bed, try to determine if you’re actually sleep-deprived or if you just need a little pick-me-up in another form.
Consider your sleep schedule.
The timing of your nap is pretty crucial. It really all depends on when you wake up and when you go to bed. Early risers, for example, will want to plan their snooze much earlier in the day than those whose feet don’t hit the floor until 10AM. Look at the 12PM-3PM window and just be mindful that it’s not going to interfere with your evening sleep schedule.
Unplug and disconnect.
You know the drill. Before your nap, avoid looking at your phone, laptop, TV or any other screen for at least 30 minutes. Gasp! Basically, try your best to go into ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. Although the idea of disconnecting from your Instagram feed or work inbox might seem daunting, when you're trying to reach nap perfection, you have to make some sacrifices. Powering back up will be your reward for a successful sleep.
Keep it brief
The key to any successful power nap is duration. Research has shown that the optimal amount of time to doze off is between 20-30 minutes. A short and sweet siesta is all you need. You can go longer of course if you’d like, but know that extending your nap past 60 minutes will cause you to enter into a deeper stage of sleep. This may result in you waking up feeling even more drowsy and groggy than before.
Set a wake-up call
Once you’ve figured out a set length of time for your nap, it’s a good idea to set an alarm. Buzzkill, we know. But there are a couple of benefits to doing so. For one, it can be hard to fall asleep if there’s pressure and worry about oversleeping (especially if you’re napping over your lunch hour). Secondly, and this one should probably be obvious, it ensures you don’t do just that and snooze past your desired wake-up call.
Find your napping happy place
For the perfect bout of shut-eye, you’ll ideally want to find a dark and quiet place. You’ll also want to be laying down if at all possible, as it takes much longer to fall asleep sitting up (why red eye flights live up to their name). While a comfortable couch or oversized chair will do, the best place to take a nap is actually in your bed. Why? This is where your body is used to falling asleep. It’s your body’s “nappy place”, if you will.
The temperature in the room of your sleep space also has a huge impact on the quality of your nap. If you’re too hot or too cold, your body will have to regulate its temperature, which may make it difficult to relax and fall into a slumber. Experts suggest a sleep temperature between 60 and 67 degrees is best. Your body also temperature drops once you fall asleep, so we suggest cozying up with a Bearaby weighted blanket . An eye mask, ear plugs and sound machine are also great napping investments to tune out any potential disruptions.
Try the caffeine nap
A cup of caffeine right before a nap might just be the ultimate energy hack. Now, hear us out here. While this approach may sound a bit counteractive, many swear by it and research actually backs it up. You see, caffeine takes approximately 30 minutes to enter the bloodstream. So, if you’re taking a quick nap as suggested, it should kick in right as you’re waking up. A napuccino! Double the refreshment! Try it- really works!
Get your Zen on
If you have trouble calming your mind to catch some extra ZZZs, consider trying out meditation techniques like breathing and visualization exercises. These can help to clear your thoughts, making it easier to drift off to Dreamland. There are a ton of great apps available if you need some guidance. Headspace, Calm and Simple Habit are just to name a few.
Know that naps won’t replace quality nighttime sleep
If you find that you can’t make it through any day without a nap, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re probably not getting enough sleep at night. While naps are great, they won’t make up for the recommended 7-8 hours of rest you should be getting each evening. Sleep is vital for our mood and health, so don’t skimp on it. What are some of your go-to tips and tricks for assuring a top-notch siesta? We’d love to know!
Did you know?
Research shows that even napping for just 2-5 minutes can help in reducing sleepiness. Just don’t do it at your desk.